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Crfd Research, Inc. v. Matal

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

December 5, 2017


         Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2015-00055, IPR2015-00627, IPR2015-00259.

          Tarek N. Fahmi, Ascenda Law Group, PC, San Jose, CA, argued for appellant in 2016-2198, 2016-2298 and for appellee in 2016-2437.

          Mary L. Kelly, Office of the Solicitor, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA, argued for intervenor in 2016-2198. Also represented by Nathan K. Kelley, Michael Sumner Forman, Thomas W. Krause, Scott Weidenfeller.

          Eliot Damon Williams, Baker Botts LLP, Palo Alto, CA, argued for appellees in 2016-2298. Also represented by George Hopkins Guy, III.

          Harper Batts, Baker Botts LLP, Palo Alto, CA, argued for appellant Hulu, LLC, in 2016-2437. Also represented by Eliot Damon Williams; Michael Hawes, Houston, TX.

          John F. Ward, Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP, New York, NY, argued for appellants Netflix, Inc., Spotify USA Inc., in 2016-2437. Also represented by David Lindenbaum, Michael J. Zinna.

          Before Newman, Mayer, and O'Malley, Circuit Judges.

          O'Malley, Circuit Judge.

         Today we decide three appeals in companion cases from final written decisions of the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") Patent Trial and Appeal Board's ("Board") inter partes reviews ("IPRs") of U.S. Patent No. 7, 191, 233 ("the '233 patent"), owned by CRFD Research, Inc. ("CRFD"). Iron Dome LLC v. CRFD Research, Inc., No. IPR2015-00055, 2016 Pat. App. LEXIS 6855 (P.T.A.B. Apr. 22, 2016) (hereinafter "Iron Dome Final Written Decision, " Appeal No. 16-2198); DISH Network Corp. v. CRFD Research, Inc., No. IPR2015-00627, 2016 Pat. App. LEXIS 7567 (P.T.A.B. June 1, 2016) (hereinafter "DISH Final Written Decision, " Appeal No. 16-2298); Hulu, LLC v. CRFD Research, Inc., No. IPR2015-00259, 2016 Pat. App. LEXIS 4340 (P.T.A.B. June 1, 2016) (hereinafter "Hulu Final Written Decision, " Appeal No. 16-2437). For the reasons stated below, we affirm the Iron Dome and DISH Final Written Decisions, but we reverse the Board's determination on obviousness in the Hulu Final Written Decision.

         I. Background

         A. The '233 Patent

         The '233 patent describes methods and systems for "user-directed transfer of an on-going software-based session from one device to another device." '233 patent, col. 1, ll. 10-11. These methods and systems operate to allow the user to begin a session on one communication-enabled device, such as a cellular telephone, wireless personal digital assistant, laptop computer, or desktop computer, and then to transfer the session to another device. Id. col. 1, ll. 8-11; see id. col. 1, ll. 15-52; see also id. col. 2, ll. 3-20; id. col. 3, ll. 6-10.

         The '233 specification explains that, "[i]n conventional systems, the user would have to discontinue the current session on the first device and reinitiate a new session on the second device." Id. col. 1, ll. 59-62. But the session transfer described in the '233 patent "provides the capability to initiate a transfer of an on-going session from a first device to a second device while maintaining the session and its context." Id. col. 3, ll. 7-10.

         The '233 patent describes a method of session transfer in which: (1) a first device sends a "redirect or transfer command" to a session transfer module; (2) a session server begins intercepting messages intended for the first device; (3) the first device transmits a "transaction or session history" to the session server; (4) the session server retrieves the previously stored "device profile" of a second device to which the session will be redirected, converts the stored messages of the session history into a data format compatible and/or modality compatible with the second device, and converts the session state to a state compatible with the second device; and (5) when the user activates the second device, the session server "push- es the converted session to the redirected device over the network 100 as a normal session with the converted transaction log." Id. col. 7, l. 46-col. 8, l. 35.

         Claim 1 is illustrative of the independent and dependent claims at issue in these appeals:[1]

         1. A method for redirecting an on-going, software based session comprising:

conducting a session with a first device; specifying a second device;
discontinuing said session on said first device; and
transmitting a session history of said first device from said first device to a session transfer module after said session is discontinued on said first device; and
resuming said session on said second device with said session history.

Id. col. 9, ll. 30-39.

         B. Relevant Prior Art

         The Board reviewed three prior art references relevant to the issues raised in these appeals: (1) Thomas Phan et al., "A New TWIST on Mobile Computing: Two-Way Interactive Session Transfer" in the Proceedings of the Second IEEE Workshop on Internet Applications (WIAPP 2001) ("Phan San Jose"); (2) Thomas Phan et al., "Handoff of Application Sessions Across Time and Space" in volume 5 of the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC 2001) ("Phan Helsinki"); and (3) U.S. Patent No. 6, 963, 901, filed July 24, 2000, and issued November 8, 2005 ("Bates").[2]

         1. Phan San Jose

         The Board examined Phan San Jose as part of the Iron Dome and DISH Final Written Decisions. Phan San Jose describes the "Interactive Mobile Application Support for Heterogeneous Clients (iMASH) research project." iMASH allows hospital physicians and staff to "seamlessly move an application's session from one machine to another machine, " such as a desktop or laptop computer, using the hospital's "network as a conduit." Using iMASH, a physician may begin a session on a first device and later resume that session on a different device using the session data from the first device.

         As part of its discussion of the iMASH research project, Phan San Jose discloses a two-way interactive session transfer ("TWIST"). TWIST places middleware servers ("MWSs") between client devices and an application server. Session state data on a first device is stored on the MWS and then transferred to another client upon session handoff.

         Phan San Jose also describes how the iMASH system could be used with a "Teaching File" Java applet that displays medical images and associated information to allow users to create and modify instructional "teaching files." In responding to a user request, the application server sends an image file from storage to the MWS. The MWS then performs a format conversion on the image, and the requesting client device then receives this image.

         Phan San Jose describes two methods for session handoff: a "pull" mode and a "push" mode. In the "pull" mode, so named because the target machine retrieves the session state from the MWS, the session handoff proceeds as follows:

When the user wishes to perform a session handoff, he must first decide how the handoff shall be conducted with respect to the recipient. If the user selects a "Suspend" operation [at the first client device in the "pull" mode], his session shall be saved back to the MWS, allowing the application to terminate, and at a later time the session can be reinstantiated by the Teaching File application running on the target machine.

         J.A. 349 (Appeal No. 16-2198); J.A. 1333 (Appeal No. 16-2298). In the "pull" mode, the second device is specified after the session is terminated on the first device. But in the "push" mode, the user selects the target second device to which the transfer will be made before the session on the first device is terminated. Id. When the handoff occurs in the "push" mode, the MWS contacts a daemon running on the target device to immediately launch the Teaching File applet; this action automatically retrieves the session state data from the first device. Id. The applet on the first client terminates only after the session state is fully reinstantiated on the second machine. Id.

         2. Phan Helsinki

         The Board examined Phan Helsinki in the course of the Iron Dome and DISH Final Written Decisions. Phan Helsinki elaborates on the architecture and operation of the iMASH research project described in Phan San Jose. J.A. 359-64 (Appeal No. 16-2198); J.A. 1343-48 (Appeal No. 16-2298). Phan Helsinki explains that this system employs MWSs "strategically placed between the application servers and the clients." J.A. 359 (Appeal No. 16-2198); J.A. 1343 (Appeal No. 16-2298). The MWSs, rather than the original application servers, act as the data sources for the various clients and support session handoffs. Id. "When a user moves an on-going application session from one device to another, middleware servers act as a 'home' for the application state (including active connections, cached data, etc.) to facilitate migration between devices." J.A. 361 (Appeal No. 16-2198); J.A. 1345 (Appeal No. 16-2298).

         Phan Helsinki also describes the "Middleware-Aware Remote Code" ("MARC") on the client device that facilitates "session saving and restoration, " and explains how a session is transferred using a web browser that has been "outfitted" with MARC. J.A. 361-62 (Appeal No. 16-2198); J.A. 1345-46 (Appeal No. 16-2298). First, a user starts the client application by providing a user ID. The MARC within the browser then contacts the MWS and begins a new session using this user ID. If a previous session state exists, it is retrieved from the MWS and is incorporated into the browser before the user's current session begins. Id.

         3. Bates

         Bates discloses a system and method for "sharing . . . browser information between at least two browser applications" in which a web browsing session is transferred from a first computer to a second computer via one or more servers. Bates, col. 1, ll. 63-66; id. col. 3, ll. 4-7; id. col. 9, ll. 24-30; id. col. 10, l. 51-col. 11, l. 8. The "browser information includes information generated during a browsing session, i.e., a period of time when the browser 240 is executing on a client computer 106 and a network connection exists between the client 106 and the network 104 allowing a user to traverse network addresses corresponding to the servers 108, " and the information "may be limited to the information generated during a particular browsing session." Id. col. 4, ll. 61-67; id. col. 6, ll. 11-13; id. col. 7, ll. 22-24.

         Bates discloses a step-by-step session transfer process in which a user first conducts a web browsing session on a first client computer. Id. col. 10, ll. 58-61. Next, "[a] user may input to the field 302 an e-mail address for a computer (e.g., a remote client computer 106) to which the browser information contained in the sending computer's buffer 242 will be sent." Id. col. 5, ll. 52-56. When the user wishes to switch computers, "the user may be re- quired to terminate a browsing session. In such an event, the necessary browser information may be collected and transmitted to a remote computer containing another browser program" through the use of various servers and networks. Id. col. 10, ll. 61-65. "The browser information is then used to reconfigure the browser program of the remote computer and restore the user to where he or she left off during the terminated browsing session." Id. col. 10, l. 65-col. 11, l. 1. "In effect, the present invention preserves the current status of a browsing session to be resumed at another location." Id. col. 11, ll. 6-8.

         Bates also describes various "share events, " which are events "adapted to initiate transmission of the browser information from the local client computer to the remote client computer." Id. col. 9, ll. 4-7. Share events occur in connection with a user interface, where the local computer is configured to share browser information with a remote computer. Id. col. 8, ll. 59-66. Figure 5 of Bates depicts five such events: (1) upon user request (i.e., the browser information is transmitted immediately in response to a user request); (2) at shutdown (where the browser information is transmitted when the client computer is shutdown); (3) at an idle period (where the browser information is transmitted when the client computer is idle-e.g., when it enters a standby or hibernation mode); (4) periodically (where the browser information is transmitted at periodic time intervals); and (5) upon a predetermined action (in which the browser information is transmitted upon the occurrence of an action performed by the user, which action is not ...

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