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January 11, 2009

Bad Coordinates

Vehicle IP sued General Motors and others over 6,535,743, claiming "a system for providing directions." The defendants evaded infringement in summary judgment over construction of the term "coordinate." The district court construed a coordinate as multiple numbers. The defendants' systems used a single scalar value. 2-1, the CAFC agreed.

Vehicle IP (VIP) v. General Motors, OnStar, Verizon Wireless and Networks in Motion (CAFC 2008-1259) non-precedential

Judge Prost wrote the opinion that Judge Bryson triangulated with.

Although not explicitly included in its definition, in discussing the term the court found that "[f]or something to be a coordinate it must have a partner so that together the coordinates can provide the location of a point." Vehicle IP, 578 F. Supp. 2d at 1117. The court therefore found that a "mere numeric value like 200 feet[] cannot be a coordinate without a partner." Id.

To compare a notification coordinate to the mobile unit's location, as required by the claims, the notification coordinate necessarily must be of the same kind or type as the mobile unit location coordinates. The location of the mobile unit is expressed in terms of latitude and longitude, and cannot "substantially correspond" to a scalar value, such as 500 meters. No meaningful comparison between the two is possible. The plain language of the claims precludes the possibility that a coordinate can be a scalar.

The specification use of coordinates reads nominally, as having a number for each dimension, such as (x,y) for a planar coordinate.

In one embodiment, the origination location of mobile unit 12 is the current location of mobile unit 12, and may be represented as "from" geographical coordinates.

The directions may comprise a series of commands, geographical coordinates, regions, zones, or any other suitable indicators of location that define a particular path or route of travel.

The prosecution history supported that conclusion.

Affirmed.

Judge Mayer convened math class in dissent. Too bad basic geometry eluded him.

The plain ordinary meaning of "coordinate" is quite broad and not limited to a longitude latitude pair. In mathematics, there are many types of coordinate systems and the common ground is that they all define a point... A coordinate should not be construed to exclude defining a point by an offset from another point along a known path.

Any point described by one coordinate system may be easily converted to another coordinate system for direct comparison.

Further support is found in the claims because a notification region is defined by a plurality of notification coordinates. A plurality of points is required to define a region in space. It is consistent to use coordinate in the singular to describe a single point within such a region. Also, the specification often uses coordinate in the singular in the term "geographical coordinate," which is clearly a point in space.

Nominally, a point, or coordinate, in three dimensional space requires three numbers (x,y,z).

coordinate (ca. 1823) - any of a set of numbers used in specifying the location of a point on a line, on a surface, or in space

Prosecutors have the opportunity to act as their own lexicographer, to define their own terms. The specification had done so for "directions," but not "coordinate." If the prosecutor had intended a two- or three-dimensional coordinate as a scalar, a single simple sentence would have sufficed.

A coordinate may be defined as any single or plurality of numbers that establish location.

Claim terms should be construed to take their ordinary meaning if no definition is provided.

Posted by Patent Hawk at January 11, 2009 12:10 AM | Claim Construction

Comments

If a planar coordinate needs two dimensions (x,y), doesn't a linear coordinate only need one dimension (x)? Wouldn't this capture "coordinate" with a singular scalar value?

Patent Hawk lectures on Mayer's bad basic geometry "Nominally, a point, or coordinate, in three dimensional space requires three numbers (x,y,z).", and needs to attend basic math himself.
3 dimensions -> Point = (x,y,z)
2 dimensions -> Point = (x,y)
1 dimension -> Point = (x)
Judge Mayer is correct. Scalar values ARE an indication of Coordinate in the ordinary meaning of one dimensional geometry.


"...or any other suitable indicators of location that define a particular path" - Doesn't a linear coordinate indicate a particular path? If I'm moving in a straight line (one dimension), 15 meters does define a coordinate and given my position defines a particular path of a certain length.

Posted by: Basicly at January 11, 2009 7:19 AM

Basicly,

Patents are practical technical/legal documents, not tomes of abstraction. Context is paramount in claim construction. In other words, reality counts.

There was no instance or applicability of one-dimensional coordinates with regard to this patent, no point on a line. They just didn't think of scalar values, and that is apparent by lack of mention. As I wrote, a single sentence would have defined coordinate to include scalar values.

Patentees should not received patent protection for something they didn't think of. And there was no argument over equivalence in this case.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at January 11, 2009 10:48 AM

Perhaps then, Patent Hawk, if you wish to avoid tomes of abstraction, you should refrain from making arguments to the effect that a judge needs basic geometry lessons.

But also perhaps you are wrong (as well) in regards to the instance or applicability of a one dimensional coordinate. The quote from my previous post is taken directly from the specification:
"...or any other suitable indicators of location that define a particular path".

"ANY other" has a pretty broad applicability.

To the question of where is the end of my nose, the answer (a scalar) 1 and 1/4 inches seems like an ordinary response.

To point, one dimensional coordinates are still very much a reality, still very much an ordinary meaning in one dimensional geometry.

Posted by: Basicly at January 11, 2009 11:00 AM

Basicly,

Your quote was the same as what I cited: "The directions may comprise a series of commands, geographical coordinates, regions, zones, or any other suitable indicators of location that define a particular path or route of travel."

The definition was of "directions," not "coordinates."

Your construction requires reading into what wasn't disclosed.

One analogy would be that patents are a form of contract. The "four corners" rule of contract law is that interpretation should only be what was written, taking nothing out and putting nothing in.

Posted by: Patent Hawk at January 11, 2009 11:38 AM

Patent Hawk,

To be precise, the quote is not a definition of directions per se, but what they may comprise, which in the general sense is the relation between coordinates.

But I will grant you what you desire, and we'll just use the normal definition of coordinate that you provided:

coordinate (ca. 1823) - any of a set of numbers used in specifying the location of a point on a line, on a surface, or in space

Oh wait, specifying the location of a point on a line - why, that's a scalar isn't it? As my earlier post pointed out, the set (and coordinate is defined as ANY) according to the definition varies according to whether the coordinate is specifying the location of a point on a line, on a surface, or in space.

I guess reading into a word its normal definition (and one you provided) is asking a bit much (according to you).

Am I still reading to much into coordinate? or am I talking in too deep a tome of abstraction? Can we put a definition of a word into the "four corners"? Would any of this change your view of the matter?

Posted by: Basicly at January 11, 2009 7:32 PM