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Fenner Investments, Ltd. v. Cellco P'ship

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

February 12, 2015

FENNER INVESTMENTS, LTD., Plaintiff-Appellant
CELLCO PARTNERSHIP (doing business as Verizon Wireless), Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in No. 11-CV-0348, Judge Leonard Davis.

JONATHAN S. FRANKLIN, Norton Rose Fulbright U.S. LLP, Washington, DC, argued for plaintiff-appellant. Also represented by MARK EMERY.

GEOFFREY P. EATON, Winston & Strawn LLP, Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellee. Also represented by KEVIN PAUL ANDERSON, KARIN A. HESSLER, Wiley Rein, LLP, Washington, DC; CAREN KHOO, Verizon Corporate Services Group, Basking Ridge, NJ.

Before NEWMAN, SCHALL, and HUGHES, Circuit Judges.


Page 1321

Newman, Circuit Judge.

Fenner Investments, Ltd. appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment that Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, does not infringe claim 1 of United States Patent No. 5,561,706 (the '706 patent). We affirm the judgment.


The '706 patent is directed to personal communication services (PCS) systems, whereby users are provided with the ability to access a communications network from diverse locations. Before the development of PCS systems, call servicing and billing were specific to a particular communications device at a fixed location. In PCS systems, telephone service can be identified independent of a telephone unit, and each user of a particular device has a personal identification number by which call servicing and billing are identified with the user, and not with a particular telephone unit. '706 Patent col. 1 ll. 15-45.

The '706 patent states that " a need has arisen for a system capable of locating and tracking personal identification numbers such that billing and connecting procedures may be accomplished" in order to realize the benefits of uncoupling devices and individual users operating in a PCS system. Col. 1 ll. 43-45. The '706 patent states that existing PCS systems do not address this need because " present telephone communication numbering and addressing systems are geographically oriented since the source telephone and the destination telephone numbers are always in predictable and set locations." Col. 1 ll. 32-35. The '706 invention seeks to address this problem " by means of a mobile address management system" that " uses

Page 1322

multiple location authorities to track the locations of personal identification numbers and multiple billing authorities to maintain the services and the billing costs associated with a personal identification number." Col. 1 ll. 49-54.

Claim 1, the only asserted claim of the '706 patent, states the patented method:

1. A method of providing access to a mobile user in a communications system having a plurality of interconnected radio frequency communication switches for selectively collecting calls to mobile users via radio frequency links, a plurality of billing authorities for maintaining service profiles of mobile users and a plurality of location authorities for maintaining current locations of mobile users within the interconnected communication switches, the method comprising:
receiving at a radio frequency communication switch a personal identification number from a mobile user;
receiving from the mobile user at the communication switch a billing code identifying one of the plurality of billing authorities maintaining a service profile for the mobile use[r], wherein different ones of the plurality of billing authorities may maintain the service profile or a second profile for the mobile user identified by the personal identification number;
requesting a service profile of the mobile user from the billing authority identified by the received billing code;
storing in memory the service profile received from the billing authority; and providing the mobile user access to the switch.

After a claim construction hearing, the district court adopted Verizon's proposed construction of the term " personal identification number," construing it to mean " a number separate from a billing code (as construed herein), identifying an individual system user, which is associated with the individual and not the device." The district court construed " billing code" to mean " a code separate from the personal identification number (as construed herein), identifying a particular billing authority (as construed herein)." Based on the court's designated meaning of ...

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