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The court affirmed the district court’s holding that all claims of the asserted patent were indefinite under Section 112(2), because the term “compliance mechanism” is a means-plus-function term that lacks sufficient structure.  The court agreed that the term “compliance mechanism” lacked the word “means,” but nevertheless would be construed as a means-plus-function term under Section 112(6).  This was because Capital One demonstrated that the claim term, when read in light of the specification, failed to recite sufficiently definite structure for performing the claimed function, and, following Williamson, the court no longer applies a “heavy” presumption that means-plus-function interpretation does not apply where the term lacks the word “means.”  Further, the court stated that it has never found the term “mechanism” alone to connote any identifiable structure.  Having determined that the means-plus-function interpretation rules apply, the court then looked to the specification to determine whether it disclosed any corresponding structure for performing each of the claimed functions.  Here, because the claimed functions are computer-implemented functions, the structure must be more than merely a general purpose computer or microprocessor and must be an algorithm for performing the claimed function.  No such algorithms were disclosed, thereby rendering the claim term “compliance mechanism” indefinite.

Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, Case No. 2014-1218 (September 4, 2015); Opinion by: O’Malley, joined by Plager and Taranto; Appealed From: District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Tranga, J. Read the full opinion here.

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