The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement, but reversed summary judgment that the claims were indefinite.   The patent-at-issue related to handheld pointing devices and the accused devices were the handheld pointing devices that operate with the Wii gaming systems. 

On the issue of infringement, the court construed the claim term “handheld device” to require a “direct” handheld device.  Direct devices differ from indirect devices in that, in a direct device, the physical point-of-aim coincides with the item being pointed at (e.g., a laser pointer) whereas, in an indirect device, the object of pointing bears an indirect relationship to the physical point-of-aim of the pointing device (e.g., a computer mouse).  The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s construction, finding that the specification repeatedly described the invention as a direct-pointing system and extolled the virtues of direct pointing while criticizing indirect pointing.  Having so construed the claims, the Federal Circuit affirmed the finding of non-infringement.  The court found that the Wii handheld device, which works in conjunction with a sensor bar, acts as an indirect pointing device only, as the object of pointing (the sensor bar) is not directly related to the location of the cursor on the television screen. 

On the issue of indefiniteness, the district court found that the system claim was indefinite for including a method step, the image sensor “generating data.”  The Federal Circuit, however, held that this was not a method limitation, i.e., infringement did not require that the image sensor actually generate data, rather it just needs to be capable of generating data.  This fact distinguished this case from other Federal Circuit precedents where infringement of a system claim requires that a method be performed, thereby rendering the claim indefinite. 

UltimatePointer, L.L.C. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., Case No. 2015-1297 (March 1, 2016); Opinion by: Lourie, joined by Dyk and Wallach; Appealed From: United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Lasnik, J. Read the full opinion here.

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