Summary of Ancora Technologies Inc. v. Apple Inc., 2013 - 1378, -1414
Ancora is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 6,411,941 (the ‘941 patent), relating to a software rights management method. Ancora filed suit against Apple and argued that devices running the iOS operating system infringed upon their patent. The district court found that an operating system could not be construed as a "program" and thus handed down a verdict of non-infringement.
Apple filed a cross-appeal, arguing that the terms "volatile memory" and "non-volatile memory" should have been held indefinite because an example given in the specification of the ‘941 patent was irreconcilable with the ordinary meaning of those terms. The district court had rejected this argument and found that Apple's argument regarding several erroneous references to hard disk drives as a "volatile memory" in the specification did not amount to a redefinition of a well-known term.
The Federal Circuit reversed the district court's construction of a "program" as being limited to application programs (i.e. excluding operating systems). In so doing, the Federal Circuit noted that nothing in the specification of the ‘941 patent clearly supported narrowing the term from its plain and ordinary meaning and that statements in the prosecution history relied upon by Apple did not give rise to a disclaimer. As to Apple’s cross-appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that the terms "volatile memory" and "non-volatile memory" were not indefinite under 35 U.S.C. §112 based in part on finding that the prosecution history demonstrated that the ordinary meaning of those terms was intended.