952 F.2d 1384 (Fed. Cir. 1992), 91-1283, Intellicall, Inc. v. Phonometrics, Inc.

Docket Nº:91-1283.
Citation:952 F.2d 1384
Party Name:21 U.S.P.Q.2d 1383 INTELLICALL, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. PHONOMETRICS, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 09, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 
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Page 1384

952 F.2d 1384 (Fed. Cir. 1992)

21 U.S.P.Q.2d 1383

INTELLICALL, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

PHONOMETRICS, INC., Defendant-Appellant.

No. 91-1283.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

January 9, 1992

Page 1385

Robert M. Chiaviello, Jr., Baker & Botts, Dallas, Tex., argued, for plaintiff-appellee. With him on the brief were Kevin J. Meeks and Jerry W. Mills. Also on the brief were Thomas H. Adolph, Alan D. Rosenthal and Michael E. Wilson, of Baker & Botts, Houston, Tex.

W. Bryan Farney, Arnold, White & Durkee, Houston, Tex., argued, for defendant-appellant.

Before NIES, Chief Judge, MARSHALL, Associate Justice (Retired), Supreme Court of the United States, sitting by designation, and FRIEDMAN, Senior Circuit Judge.

NIES, Chief Judge.

Phonometrics, Inc., owner of U.S. Patent No. 3,769,463 (the '463 patent), appeals from the summary judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas declaring that Intellicall, Inc., had not infringed the '463 patent. We affirm.

I.

BACKGROUND

The '463 patent claims an apparatus for automatically computing and recording the cost of a long-distance telephone call. As described in the specification, the cumulative call cost information is displayed to the caller while the call is being made. Claim

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1, the only independent claim of the '463 patent, defines the invention as follows:

1. An electronic solid state long-distance telephone call cost computer apparatus for computing and recording the cost of each long-distance telephone call initiated from a given calling telephone, actuated by the lifting and replacement of the calling telephone to operate switch means coupled to the calling telephone, and further actuated by a call-completion signal generated in the telephone system when a called party answers at a called telephone, the computer apparatus comprising:

call timing means for timing the duration of each completed call;

settable charge selector means for storing initial fixed charge data for a given predetermined initial call interval and incremental charge data for subsequent additional predetermined incremental call intervals;

call cost register means, including a digital display for providing a substantially instantaneous display of cumulative call cost in dollars and cents;

and computer circuit means, coupled to said switch, to said timing means, to said charge selector means, and to said call cost register means, for automatically recording, in the call cost register means, the cost of each long-distance call made from the calling telephone, said computer circuit means comprising:

reset means for resetting said timing means and said call cost register means immediately upon occurrence of said call completion signal;

initial cost transfer means initiating operation of said call timing means and for applying the complete initial fixed charge data from said charge selector means to said call cost register means substantially instantaneously upon resetting of said call timing means and said call cost register;

incremental cost transfer means for applying the complete incremental charge data from said charge selector means to said call cost register means substantially instantaneously upon completion of timing out the initial call interval by said call timing means and for again applying the complete incremental charge data from said charge selector means to said call cost register means substantially instantaneously upon completion of timing out of each incremental call interval following said initial call interval;

and termination means for interrupting operation of said computer apparatus, with the cumulative call cost held in and displayed by said call cost register means, upon operation of said switch by replacement of the calling telephone.

Phonometrics does not manufacture any products nor has it granted any licenses under the '463 patent.

Intellicall brought this declaratory judgment action against Phonometrics in the Texas district court. Phonometrics counterclaimed for infringement and both parties filed motions for summary judgment on the sole issue of infringement.

Intellicall's accused devices are several types of pay telephones. Intellicall's "window phones" visually display to the caller the amount of money deposited and count down the time remaining for the deposited amount. In some instances Intellicall phones provide digitalized voice messages in addition to, or in place of, the visual display. Intellicall also sells software which accumulates and stores call information. It is not clear exactly what functions this "Intellistar" software performs. However, access to this stored information requires opening the telephone or interrogating the Intellistar memory via computer.

The present appeal centers around the functions required for the "call cost register means" of the claim. The district court held that this means must provide an instantaneous visual display of cumulative

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call cost in dollars and cents and that none of the accused Intellicall devices satisfies this element of the claim literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Accordingly, the district court granted Intellicall's motion for summary judgment on non-infringement. This appeal followed.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion for summary judgment is properly granted only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A.B. Chance Co. v. RTE Corp., 854 F.2d 1307, 1310, 7 USPQ2d 1881, 1883-84 (Fed.Cir.1988). In reviewing the district court's grant of summary judgment, we are not bound by its holding that no material facts are in dispute. Rather, we must make an independent determination as to whether the standards for summary judgment have been met. Vas-Cath Inc. v. Mahurkar, 935 F.2d 1555, 1560, 19 USPQ2d 1111, 1114 (Fed.Cir.1991). Therefore, we must determine whether the district court improperly resolved any genuine issues of material fact and whether Intellicall is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

III.

CLAIM INTERPRETATION

Claim interpretation is a question of law amenable to summary judgment, Johnston v. IVAC Corp., 885 F.2d 1574, 1579-80, 12 USPQ2d 1382, 1385-86 (Fed.Cir.1989), and disagreement over the meaning of a term within a claim does not necessarily create a genuine issue of material fact. Becton Dickinson & Co. v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 922 F.2d 792, 797, 17 USPQ2d 1097, 1100 (Fed.Cir.1990). The terms in a claim are given their ordinary meaning to one of skill in the art unless it appears from the patent...

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