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Triune Star, Inc. v. Walt Disney Co.

November 25, 2008

TRIUNE STAR, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, WDIG MOBILE, LLC (D/B/A DISNEY MOBILE), PANTECH & CURITEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC., PANTECH CO. LED., PANTECH WIRELESS, INC., LG ELECTRONICS, AND LG ELECTRONICS MOBILECOM USA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Defendants LG and Pantech, as well as WDIG Mobile's Motion for Summary Judgment and corresponding Motions for Sanctions. For the reasons set forth below, LG and Pantech's Motion for Summary Judgment [#49] is granted, and WDIG Mobile's Motion for Summary Judgment [#50] is granted. The Motions for Sanctions [#63] and [#65] are also granted.

BACKGROUND

On September 19, 2000, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued Patent No. 6,122,521 (the "'521 patent") for a "Telecommunications Locating System." Plaintiff, Triune Star, Inc. ("Triune"), is the assignee of this patent and therefore is the owner of all right, title, and interest in the '521 patent. This action arises out of the WDIG Mobile, LLC, d/b/a Disney Mobile ("WDIG Mobile") program, which operated from mid-2006 until December 31, 2007, when it ceased operations. The WDIG Mobile program utilized several models of LG and Pantech mobile phones. Triune accuses the mobile phones used in the WDIG Mobile program, including Pantech Models DM-P100 and DM-P205 and LG Models DM-L200 and DM-L210, of infringing "at least claims 7 and 9" of the '521 patent.

Triune's patent application was not allowed as originally submitted. On October 28, 1998, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") indicated that claims 3 and 11, two of the dependent claims in the application, "would be allowable if rewritten in independent form including all of the limitations of the base claim and any intervening claims." These claims stated as follows:

3. A system is defined in claim 1 wherein the video means is a miniature infrared camera.

11. A system is defined in claim 8 wherein the video means is a miniature infrared camera.

Thus, claims 3 and 11 indicate the particular subset of cameras that corresponds to the "video means" referred to in claim 1. In response, Triune amended independent claims 1 and 8 of its patent application:

1. A telecommunications locating system for persons and things comprising (1) a remote unit adapted to be carried on a person or thing, said remote unit comprising:

(a) a receiver for receiving navigational signals from satellites in orbit about the earth and being adapted to generate position information signals indicative of the position of the remote unit;

(b) a video means in the form of a miniature infra-red camera for generating signals representing a visual image of the area in the vicinity of the remote unit

8. A remote unit for use in a telecommunications locating system for persons and things comprising:

(a) a receiver for receiving navigational signals from satellites in orbit about the earth and being adapted to generate position information signals indicative of the position of the remote unit;

(b) a video means in the form of a miniature infra-red camera for generating signals representing a visual image of the area in the vicinity of the remote unit

Response to 28 Oct. 1998 Office Action at 1-6 (emphasis in original). With these amendments, Triune included the following remarks:

In the outstanding office action, the Examiner indicated that claims 3 and 11 would be allowable if re-written in independent form. Claims 1 and 8 have accordingly been amended to incorporate the subject matter of claims 3 and 11 respectively, and therefore it is respectfully submitted that this application is now in condition for allowance. A notice to that effect is respectfully solicited.

Id., at 5-6.

Following the amendments, Triune's patent '521 patent issued with a total of nine claims. Claims 1 and 7 are independent claims, with Claims 2 - 6 depending on Claim 1, and Claims 8 - 9 depending on Claim 7. It is undisputed that a "miniature infra-red camera" is a limitation of all the claims of the issued '521 patent.

Triune contends that the phrase "miniature infra-red camera" refers to "a camera that has a spectral response sufficient to capture visible images of the area in the vicinity of the remote unit" and "does not limit . . . the claim to a camera having a spectral response limited to the infrared range of wavelengths." The '521 patent states that it is preferred to use "a miniature infrared camera marketed by TVX International and TVX, Inc." Triune admits that the TVX camera referenced in the patent specifications is not a solely an infrared camera and does not contain an infrared blocking filter, but does include an infrared flash or strobe and is capable of producing a pictorial image based on radiation in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Infrared photography is not equivalent to taking conventional photographs with a conventional camera. This is because infrared radiation and visible light differ in that visible light has waves with higher frequency and shorter wavelengths than infrared radiation. The waves in the visible light portion of the electromagnetic spectrum are visible to the naked eye, while the waves in the infrared portion are invisible to the naked eye. An infrared camera is designed to produce and capable of producing a pictorial image based on radiation in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; it is not designed to produce a pictorial image based on visible light. A conventional visible-light camera includes an IR cut filter to almost completely inhibit or block infrared radiation from reaching the image sensor.

The LG models DM-L200 and DM-L210 include the CMMG-V068 camera module built into the phone. This camera includes an IR cut filter between the lens and image sensor but does not include an IR pass filter, which is normally found in infrared cameras. Triune admits that the CMMG-V068 camera module is designed to produce images based on ...


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