This morning the Federal Circuit released a precedential opinion in a patent case appealed from the International Trade Commission. In the opinion, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission’s determination of no infringement and a lack of domestic industry as to one patent and, with respect to an expired patent, vacated and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss due to the patent’s expiration. Notably, in the course of analyzing infringement of the first patent, the court highlighted that “a computer-implemented claim drawn to a functional capability requires some showing that the accused computer-implemented device is programmed or otherwise configured, without modification, to perform the claimed function when in operation.” The Federal Circuit also released a nonprecedential order denying a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissing the appeal. Here is the introduction to the opinion and text from the order.
INVT SPE LLC v. International Trade Commission (Precedential)
Complainant INVT SPE LLC (INVT) appeals from a determination by the International Trade Commission (Commission or ITC) in Investigation No. 337-TA-1138, Certain LTE- and 3G-Compliant Cellular Communications Devices, that respondents Apple Inc., HTC Corporation, HTC America, Inc., ZTE Corporation, and ZTE (USA) Inc. did not violate 19 U.S.C. § 1337 (section 337) by the importation and sale of personal electronic devices, such as smartphones, smart watches, and tablets. INVT’s complaint alleged that these devices infringed five INVT patents, only two of which are at issue in this appeal—U.S. Patent Nos. 6,760,590 (’590 patent) and 7,848,439 (’439 patent). In a final initial determination (FID), the administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that the accused devices did not infringe claims 3 and 4 of the ’590 patent and claims 1 and 2 of the ’439 patent. In the Matter of Certain LTE- and 3G-Compliant Cellular Communications Devices, Initial Determination on Violation of Section 337, No. 337-TA-1138, 2020 WL 1504741, at *2 (Feb. 18, 2020) (FID). The ALJ also determined that INVT had failed to meet the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement as to those claims. Id. INVT petitioned the Commission for review of those findings, J.A. 1787–1815, 1831–56, which the Commission decided not to review, In the Matter of Certain LTE- and 3G-Compliant Cellular Communications Devices, Notice of a Commission Determination to Review in Part a Final Initial Determination Finding No Violation of Section 337 and, on Review, to Affirm the Final Initial Determination’s Findings of No Violation; Termination of the Investigation, No. 337-TA-1138, 2020 WL 4582313, at *2 (June 1, 2020) (Commission Decision). The Commission affirmed the ultimate finding of no violation of section 337. See id. at *3. INVT appeals from this final determination. All five respondents intervened, but Apple, Inc., ZTE (USA) Inc., and ZTE Corporation have since withdrawn as parties, leaving HTC Corporation and HTC America as intervenors. See ECF Nos. 67, 93 (orders granting motions to withdraw).
We affirm the Commission’s determination that there was no section 337 violation with respect to the ’439 patent because INVT failed to show infringement and the existence of domestic industry. We agree with INVT’s argument on appeal that the asserted ’439 claims are drawn to “capability.” However, we disagree with INVT on infringement. For infringement purposes, a computer-implemented claim drawn to a functional capability requires some showing that the accused computer-implemented device is programmed or otherwise configured, without modification, to perform the claimed function when in operation. We affirm the noninfringement finding in this case because INVT failed to introduce any evidence to establish that the accused devices, when put into operation, will ever perform the particular functions recited in the asserted claims.
We find the Commission’s determination with respect to the ’590 patent moot based on the patent’s expiration, and thus vacate and remand as to that patent.
Smith v. United States (Nonprecedential Order)
David Lee Smith moves for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. After consideration of the complaint, the judgment of the United States Court of Federal Claims, and Mr. Smith’s opening brief, we dismiss the appeal.
In 2019, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado entered an order of foreclosure and judicial sale of Mr. Smith’s home. After unsuccessfully exhausting his appeals in that matter, Mr. Smith filed this suit on his own behalf and as the representative of his deceased wife’s estate at the Court of Federal Claims asserting an unlawful judicial taking of property in violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The complaint alleged that the district court failed to comply with all necessary procedures, including failing to set off amounts owed, failing to determine the proper amount of federal taxes owed, and failing to distribute tax exemptions. The Court of Federal Claims granted Mr. Smith’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, certifying under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal would not be taken in good faith. Mr. Smith now appeals, seeking in his brief for this court to “declare the judgments and orders of . . . the District of Colorado and . . . the Tenth Circuit void . . . because of the jurisdictional defects and due process violations in those courts.” ECF No. 5-1 at 3.
Given Mr. Smith’s motion and the § 1915(a)(3) certification, it is appropriate to assess whether Mr. Smith’s appeal complies with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), which provides “the court shall dismiss . . . if the court determines that . . . the action or appeal . . . is frivolous.” It is well settled that the Court of Federal Claims “cannot entertain a taking[s] claim that requires the court to ‘scrutinize the actions of’ another tribunal.’” Innovair Aviation Ltd. v. United States, 632 F.3d 1336, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (citation omitted, alteration in the original); Petro-Hunt, L.L.C. v. United States, 862 F.3d 1370, 1385 (Fed. Cir. 2017); Shinnecock Indian Nation v. United States, 782 F.3d 1345, 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2015). Mr. Smith has raised no cogent, non-frivolous argument on appeal for why the Court of Federal Claims would have jurisdiction over his complaint that, at bottom, challenges the district court’s rulings in his foreclosure case through collateral proceedings. We therefore dismiss this appeal as frivolous.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
(1) The motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis is denied.
(2) The appeal is dismissed.
(3) Each side shall bear its own costs.