Patent Invalidated for Failure to Disclose Algorithm for Means-Plus-Function Terms

Editor: Kevin D. Rodkey

In Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, No. 14-1392 (Fed. Cir. May 6, 2015), the Federal Circuit held that the asserted patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,663,757 (“the ’757 patent”), did not disclose an algorithm to provide structure for the means-plus-function claim terms.

EON alleged infringement by smartphone manufacturers and cellular telephone providers of the ’757 patent, which is directed to software for interactive TV features. The district court granted summary judgment of invalidity, finding that the asserted claims were indefinite. EON appealed. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed, explaining that, for a means-plus-function claim term performed by software, the corresponding structure is the algorithm itself, which must be disclosed in the specification. The parties agreed that the ’757 patent did not disclose any algorithms.

The Court then rejected EON’s argument that the “Katz exception” applied, see In re Katz Interactive Call Processing Litig., 639 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2011), which found that a general microprocessor can provide structure for means-plus-function terms, but “only to basic functions of a microprocessor.” All other computer-implemented means-plus-function terms require disclosure of an algorithm.

Because no algorithms were disclosed in the ’757 patent, the Court affirmed the district court’s finding of indefiniteness.


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