This appeal involves the construction of the claim term “communications path.”  The district court construed it to be limited to wired communications thereby excluding wireless communications.  As the accused products utilized wireless communications, the parties stipulated to non-infringement and appealed.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the district court.  First, the court found, contrary to Innovative Wireless' arguments, that the term “communications path” does not have an ordinary meaning which encompasses both wired and wireless communications, as there is no intrinsic or extrinsic evidence of such an ordinary meaning.  As far as the intrinsic evidence, every embodiment in the patent involves a wired communication.  And, for the extrinsic evidence, none was presented, including dictionaries or trade literature.  Further, the doctrine of claim differentiation did not require that communications path in the independent claims be broadened to include wireless communications.  The dependent claims did not broadly claim all wired communications, but only some, and therefore the independent claim could include other forms of wired communications to be consistent.  Lastly, the court noted that, if after applying all other available tools of claim construction, the claim is ambiguous, then the court should construe the term to uphold the claim’s validity.  Here, to construe “communications path” broadly to include wireless communications would expose the claims to a likely written description violation. 

In his dissent, Judge Stark argues that the case should be remanded to the district to permit the parties to present extrinsic evidence on the issue of whether the ordinary meaning of “communications path” includes wireless communications.

Ruckus Wireless, Inc. v. Innovative Wireless Solutions, LLC, Case Nos. 2015-1425, -1438 (May 31, 2016); Opinion by: Reyna, joined by Prost, dissenting opinion by Stark (by designation); Appealed From: United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Yeakel, J. Read the full opinion here.

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