ACTV v. Walt Disney

Summary Judgment of Noninfringement Vacated After Court Construes Internet-Based Claim Term “URL”


October 08, 2003

Kovalick, Vincent P.


Last Month at the Federal Circuit - November 2003

Judges: Linn (author), Friedman, and Plager

In ACTV, Inc. v. Walt Disney Company, No. 02-1491 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 8, 2003), the Federal Circuit vacated a grant of SJ of no infringement because of an erroneous claim construction and failure to properly consider the DOE.

ACTV, Inc., owner of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,774,664; 5,778,181; and 6,018,768, sued the Walt Disney Company and others (collectively “Walt Disney”) for infringement. The patents concern technology for the synchronization of television information with information from the Internet. The infringement issues turned on the construction of several means-plus-function claim limitations.

The Federal Circuit construed the claim term Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”) as something that identifies the location of relevant information segments, including web pages, audio clips, images, and the like. It can be an absolute URL or a relative URL, as long as it specifies one or more Internet addresses of information segments relating to Internet content. The Court then ruled that the district court had improperly adopted functions for each means-plus-function limitation that were different from what was explicitly recited in the claim. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit remanded to the district court for the district court to identify the corresponding structures associated with the claimed functions and the new definition of URL.

Finally, the Federal Circuit found that the district court had erroneously foreclosed the patentee from arguing infringement under the DOE, and remanded on this issue as well.