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Timekeeping Systems, Inc. v. PatrolLIVE International, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 1, 2017

Timekeeping Systems, Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
PatrolLIVE International, Inc., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN R. ADAMS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff TimeKeeping Systems, Inc. (“TimeKeeping”) brings this suit against Defendant DwellingLIVE, Inc., d/b/a/ PatrolLIVE International (“PatrolLIVE”). Plaintiff prays for damages and injunctive relief for patent infringement and copyright infringement. Among other things, Plaintiff alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 027, 955 (the “'955 Patent”). Defendant has answered and counterclaimed for a declaratory judgment that Defendant has not infringed the ‘955 Patent, and that the ‘955 Patent is invalid.

         Presently, this matter comes before the Court subsequent to a claim construction hearing held pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 116 S.Ct. 1384, 134 L.Ed.2d 577 (1996). The Court has considered the parties' arguments at the hearing, the parties' opening and response briefs on claim construction (Doc. #31, 32, 35, 36, and 37), and the parties' joint claim construction and prehearing statement (Doc. #38). The Court now construes the disputed patent claims.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The ‘955 Patent is directed to a guard tour system that uses electronic hardware and software components to insure that a patrol guard or officer monitors all desired areas of one or more buildings or property. (Doc. #32-1 p. 426, ‘955 Patent, col. 1, ln. 12-15.) The guard tour system includes a computer program that enables various electronic hardware components to function as a guard tour system. The patent specification describes that, in one embodiment, “the system may comprise one or more touch button readers, one or more downloaders for use with the touch button readers and a plurality of touch memory buttons located along a guard tour.” (Id., col. 2, ln. 8-12.) In an alternate embodiment, “[t]he electronic hardware may comprise * * * a positioning system and a data acquisition system, for acquiring information regarding the location, time and other information relating to certain locations or objects along a guard tour.” (Id., col. 2, ln. 4-8.) The positioning system allows “time-stamped location information [to] be selectively acquired relating to particular locations or objects along a guard tour.” (Id., col. 2, ln. 12-14.) According to the specification, “[t]he system may comprise an integrated positioning system, such as a GPS unit or receiver, cell phone locator system, local positioning system or other suitable system, to allow collection of various guard and/or vehicle position information as well as other information.” (Id., col. 2, ln. 14-19.) Consequently, as a guard progresses through the tour, the system permits the guard to acquire or generate time-stamped location information relating to the position of the guard as well as to particular sites or objects along the tour path. The guard tour system further allows this information to be transferred to a central computer for processing immediately or at the end of the tour. (Id., col. 1, ln. 66 - col. 2, 1n. 37.)

         Included in the patent specification is a flowchart (Figure 7) illustrating how the computer program and hardware of the guard tour system can be set up. (Id. p. 417.) This set up process is used to define locations or objects, or both, using positioning information, memory buttons, or other “checkpoint” devices that describe and identify officers, incidents, and locations. At the beginning of the setup process, the user has the option of defining patrol records that may include such information as clients, facilities, groups and/or locations. The next step in the setup process is to install the necessary hardware that acquires or “reads” the desired information. After the appropriate hardware is installed, the user can add locations or memory buttons, or both, by assigning a description such as location name, officer name, description of an incident, or any other characteristic necessary for a particular patrol. The user repeats these steps until all positions, touch memory buttons, or checkpoints are defined.

         The patent specification also includes a flowchart (Figure 8) which illustrates making a particular patrol or tour with a location reader, i.e., a data acquisition device. (Id. p. 418.) The guard or officer starts the patrol by going to a first location and acquiring time-stamped position information and/or reading the checkpoint device with the reader at the location. These steps are repeated at each location on the patrol. If another patrol is to be made by the same officer, the officer returns to the first location and repeats these steps.

         Plaintiff contends that the invention claimed in the ‘955 Patent differs from certain prior art because the physical location of the guard is tantamount to the physical location of the reader device carried by the guard. The claimed guard tour system prevents a guard from falsifying a report because information concerning the time and physical location of the guard while on patrol is combined with the information read at the checkpoint to ensure that the guard was in fact at the checkpoint at the indicated time when the checkpoint information was obtained. (Doc. #50.) Plaintiff further contends that the invention allows increased flexibility for guard patrols, because an officer would not be required to visit desired locations in a pre-determined sequence. (Doc. #53, Claims Construction Hearing Transcript, p. 13, ln. 1-18.)

         In its Initial Non-Infringement Contentions Pursuant to L.P.R. 3.3, Defendant's non-infringement position appears to be based on the contention that the accused devices do not infringe because “there is no monitoring ‘when on a * * * patrol, ' but only after a patrol is completed.” (Doc. #32-5 p. 522.) Defendant also contends that its “system does not actively monitor during a tour, but processes data after the tour is complete.” (Id. p. 523.)

         The Court notes that neither the validity of the ‘955 Patent in light of prior art, nor alleged infringement by Defendant are at issue here. Rather, the sole issue before the Court is construction of the disputed claim terms.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Claim construction takes into account the intrinsic record of a patent, which includes the: (1) specification of the patent; (2) prosecution history; and (3) prior art. Rawplug Co., Inc. v. Illinois Tool Works, Inc., 11 F.3d 1036, 1041 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Claim construction always begins with the claims themselves. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996). While the words of a claim are given their ordinary and customary meaning, the ordinary meaning cannot be read in a vacuum. Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005). The context of the surrounding words of the claim must be considered in determining the ordinary and customary meaning of the disputed terms. ACTV, Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., 346 F.3d 1082, 1088 (Fed. Cir. 2003). The ordinary and customary meaning must be read in the context of the written description and the prosecution history. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1313. Moreover, “the ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application.” Id. In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent to lay people. Id. at 1314.

         In assessing the meaning of a claim, a court must always review the specification. See Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1582. The specification is the part of the patent that “teaches” the invention so that one skilled in the art can make and use it. Amgen, Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 314 F.3d 1313, 1334 (Fed. Cir. 2003). The specification is highly relevant to claim construction because it may contain special or novel definitions of claim terms when the patentee has chosen to be his own lexicographer, see Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582, or it may help to resolve ambiguity when the ordinary and customary meaning of a term is not sufficiently clear, see Teleflex, Inc. v. Ficosa North Am. Corp., 299 F.3d 1313, 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2002). Thus, the specification is the “'single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term, '” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315 (quoting Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1582), and is usually “dispositive, ” Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1582. The specification is, “thus, the primary basis for construing the claims.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315 (quoting Standard Oil Co. v. Am. Cyanamid Co., 774 F.2d 448, 452 (Fed. Cir. 1985)).

         The final source of intrinsic evidence plays a role similar to the specification in the claim construction analysis. The prosecution history of the patent - the complete record of the proceedings before the Patent and Trademark Office - “provides the evidence of how the PTO and the inventor understood the patent” and should be considered by the court. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. “[T]he patent applicant's consistent usage of a term in prosecuting the patent may enlighten the meaning of that term.” Metabolite Lab., Inc. v. Laboratory Corp. of Am. Holdings, 370 F.3d 1354, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2004). The prosecution history may contain “express representations made by the applicant regarding the scope of the claims.” Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1582. But any limitation found in the history must be “clear and unmistakable.” Anchor Wall Sys., Inc. v. Rockwood Retaining Walls, Inc., 340 F.3d 1298, 1307 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

         If a claim is amenable to more than one construction, the claim should, when possible, be construed to preserve its validity. See Karsten Mfg. Corp. v. Cleveland Golf Co., 242 F.3d 1376, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2001)). The court is not permitted to redraft claims, however. Quantum Corp. v. Rodime, PLC, 65 F.3d 1577, 1584 (Fed. Cir. 1995).

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         The parties have submitted a joint claim construction chart, indicating that they disagree regarding the meaning of certain patent terms. (Doc. #38-1.) The primary construction dispute arising from the ‘955 Patent involves whether the information acquired during a patrol must be downloaded or transferred from the reader device to the central computer in real time, i.e., immediately after the information is acquired while the guard is actually performing the patrol. Plaintiff argues in favor of constructions of the'955 Patent claims which acknowledge two different actions that occur with information acquired during a patrol: (1) generating or acquiring the information with the data acquisition device, and (2) transferring or downloading the information to the central computer. Plaintiff contends that claim construction thus should reflect that certain actions “[do] not have to be in real time, ” because the transferring or downloading information from the data acquisition device to the central computer need not occur immediately during the patrol, but rather may take place days or weeks later. Defendant argues that any construction that includes “does not have to be in real time” gratuitously adds a limitation to the patent terms that flies in the face of the terms' ordinary and customary meanings. The parties also disagree as to the construction of other claim terms that do not directly involve a dispute over whether an action must take place in real time.

         The parties dispute the following terms of the ‘955 Patent:

1. Monitor/Monitoring (claims 1, 15, 18, and 30);
2. Evaluate/Evaluating (claims 1, 15, 18, and 30);
3. Guard (claims 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 30);
4. Patrol/Patrolled (claims 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 30);
5. Guard Patrol[s] (claims 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22 and 30);
6. Sites (claims 1, 15, 18, and 30); 7. Defining (claim 1);
8. When On A Guard Patrol (claims 1, 2, 3, 9, 15, 18, 20, 22 and 30);
9. Guard Location Information/Guard Route Information (claim 9);
10. Reader Device (claims 7 and 9);
11. At Any Time (claims 15 and 30);
12. Downloading (claims 15 and 30);
13. Automatically Generating Data (claim 30);
14. Global Positioning Receiver, Cellular Communication Network and Local Positioning System (claims 16 and 19);
15. Officer Records (claim 21); and 16. Group (claim 21).

         The ‘955 Patent claims containing the terms in dispute state, in pertinent part:

         What is claimed is:

         1. A computerized method of monitoring and evaluating guard patrols of one or more sites, comprising the steps of:

a) defining at least one checkpoint to identify at least one location to be patrolled by a guard;
b) defining at least one patrol record to compile informa[]tion relating to said at least one location to be patrolled by the guard;
c) providing a positioning system to generate data relating to the location of the guard to be included as part of said information;
d) detecting said information obtained from said positioning system and said at least one location patrolled by the guard;
e) storing said information within said at least one patrol record; and using said information to monitor and evaluate the guard patrol and the location of the guard when on a guard patrol.

         2. The method according to claim 1, wherein said step b comprises programming a computer with information describing records including said data relating to the location of the guard when on a guard patrol.

         3. The method according to claim 1, wherein the data relating to the location of the guard when on a guard patrol is stored within said at least one patrol record and is displayed in a graphical form to show the route of a guard patrol.

         * * *

         7. The method according to claim 1, wherein said positioning system is adapted to be configured within a reader device.

         * * *

         9. The method according to claim 7, wherein said reader device is carried by the guard when on a guard patrol and provides information selected from the group consisting of guard location information, guard tour information, guard route information, or combinations thereof.

         * * *

         15. A data processing system for monitoring and evaluating guard patrols of one or more sites comprising:

a) a central computing device;
b) a device for gathering information obtained from one or more checkpoints during a guard patrol by a guard of one or more sites, said information gathering device comprising a positing system for generating data relating to the location of the guard at any time when on a guard patrol; and
c) a system for downloading said information into said central computing device.

         16. The system according to claim 15, wherein said positioning system is selected from the group consisting of a global positioning system receiver, a cellular communication network, a local positioning system, and combinations thereof.

         * * *

         18. A computer program product for use with a data processing system for monitoring and evaluating guard patrols of one or more ...


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