(CN) - Florida Atlantic University failed to convince a federal judge that a trio of companies infringed on its patent for a video scanning technology used in the production of computer monitors and other devices.
The university's research division sued TPV Technology Ltd., Acer Inc., and Asustek Computers Inc. in June 2012, claiming the companies had incorporated FAU's "Adaptive scan converter" into a number of their products.
The technology converts information written in a variety of programming languages into horizontal lines of data and information that can be viewed on a computer screen.
In 1994, FAU professor William Glenn developed a converter that solved a memory-sapping problem for computer designers - the need to store programming data. Glenn's converter didn't require that the input data be saved. The university patented the invention later the same year.
In its complaints against the defendant companies, FAU said the "[de]fendants have been infringing and continue to infringe one or more of the claims of the '385 patent through at least the acts of making, having made, using, selling, offering for sale and/or importing infringing products, subsystems, components and systems ..."
But U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs. The matter before the court last week was a request from FAU that the earlier order be vacated.
In doing so, the university argued that Seitz erred in her earlier ruling because she improperly based her decision on evidence regarding infringement alone, and she should have instead looked to the patent to determine whether a person of ordinary skill in computer design could have copied it.
In short, they said, if someone knowledge in computer screen technology examined the patent, they would realize a critical component in a design was a counter that kept track of the horizontal lines of data.
On review, Judge Seitz said the central question raised by the lawsuits, which consolidated shortly after their filing, was "whether one of ordinary skill in the art would understand the written description itself to disclose a structure, not simply whether such a person, reading the specification, would be capable of implementing a structure to perform the function."
"At times," Seitz said, "Plaintiffs seem to conflate function and structure."
Indeed, Seitz noted that even FAU's own expert testified that the "counting could be done in, at least, two ways, using the sync signals; using a counter to count the H sync pulses or timing the differences between the sync signals to count the H sign pulses."
"Thus, while both experts testified ... that it was necessary to count the H sync pulses, at the hearing, neither one definitively stated that the Patent makes it clear that the counting must be done by a counter, as opposed to a timer, or other device," she said.
Seitz said despite FAU's contention that she was in error in reaching her original conclusion, her reliance on the university's own experts' testimony for the purpose of claim construction "was not misguided and did not result in the conflation of claims construction and invalidity."
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