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Chicago IP Litigation Tracking Northern District of Illinois IP Cases

Court Finds Claim Preamble Limiting

Posted in Claim Construction

The Metraflex Co. v. Flex-Hose Co., No. 10 C 302, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 8, 2011) (Leinenweber, H.).

Judge Leinenweber construed the claims of the patent related to displaying a product selection on a website. Of particular note:

  •  “Using a computer program via a global computer network comprising the steps” was construed as “performing each step of the method in the computer program via a global computer network.” While preambles generally are not limiting, this language was necessary to give “life, vitality and meaning to the claimant[s] and, therefore, was limiting.
  • “Steps” was defined as requiring that the steps be performed in sequential order. Logic required that the steps be performed sequentially and the specification supported the sequential requirement.
  •  “Selecting” was construed as “to choose or make a choice, including moving a cursor into a box or area of the computer display screen containing depictions of fittings/features, which causes control to pass to an additional step.”
  • “Permutation” was construed as “a visually perceptible structural variation or visually perceptible variation affecting the operating characteristics, specifications, or functionality of the product.”
  • “Fitting” was construed as “a visually variable structural feature of a product or visually perceptible variation affecting the operating characteristics, specifications, or functionality of the product.”
  •  “Generating a composite image of said selected product” was construed as “a computer processor carrying out the instructions of a computer program, taking into account the user’s selection input steps, to create a composite image.” The claims were not step-plus function claims because they did not use “step for” language and because “generating” contained an act.