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Illinois Computer Research, LLC v. Harpo Productions

May 20, 2010

ILLINOIS COMPUTER RESEARCH, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARPO PRODUCTIONS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Illinois Computer Research, LLC (ICR) has sued Harpo Productions, Inc. (Harpo), contending that portions of Harpo's website relating to Oprah's Book Club infringe ICR's U.S. patent number 7,111,252 (the '252 patent). Harpo denies infringement and asserts the affirmative defenses of inequitable conduct and invalidity of the '252 patent.

On March 24, 2010, the Court denied ICR's motion for summary judgment on an inequitable conduct defense, and granted in part and denied in part Harpo's motion for summary judgment as to infringement of the '252 patent. Illinois Computer Research, LLC v. Harpo Prods., Inc, No. 08 C 7322, --- F. Supp. 2d ----, 2010 WL 1253973 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 24, 2010). In that decision, the Court deferred construction of the terms "resolution" and "graded resolution" as used in claims 1 and 9 of the '252 patent and ordered an evidentiary hearing on the matter. The Court conducted the evidentiary hearing on May 10, 2010. This decision contains the Court's ruling on the construction of the terms "resolution" and "graded resolution" in the '252 patent.

Facts

ICR owns the '252 patent, for a method that aims to enhance the experience of shopping on the Internet by allowing users to view a product for sale from various angles. The patent includes claims for an embodiment that allows a potential purchaser to view the front and back covers and front and back flaps of a book and to browse the text of its pages. When used to browse, the invention contemplates the use of a higher degree of resolution for text than for material other than text, for example, illustrations or cover art.

Harpo, the company that produces "The Oprah Winfrey Show," operates a website. One section of the website is devoted to web pages pertaining to Oprah's Book Club (OBC), where users can, among other things, read excerpts of the OBC selections. Those excerpts are typed in by Harpo employees; they are not scanned page of the actual book.

ICR alleges that the Harpo website infringes the '252 patent by allowing users to access excerpts from the books selected for OBC. At issue in this decision are the terms "resolution" and "graded resolution" as used in claims 1 and 9 of the patent. These claims read as follows:

1. A method, comprising:

In a server of a network, storing a plurality of images representing pages of a book, said images stored with a resolution effective to enable said book to be read; responsive to a request over the network, sending one of said images to a remote node; and determining if the request for pages exceeds a certain threshold, and sending said information only if said threshold is not exceeded.

9. A method comprising: receiving, at a client of a network, information about which of a specified plurality of images to be displayed, each of specified plurality of images showing textual information and at least a plurality of said images showing non-textual information, said textual information representative of contents of a book; displaying said images responsive to said requests; and wherein each of said images use a graded resolution, which provides readable resolution for readable parts and a different resolution for non-readable parts. '252 Patent, cols. 7:44-53 & 8:13-19.

A. Proposed Constructions

Claim 1 describes an image stored with a "resolution effective to enable said book to be read." '252 Patent, col. 7:46-47. In its original claim construction brief, Harpo argued that the proper construction of "resolution effective to enable said book to be read" is "a value stored in an image file that is used to determine if a stored image is of sufficient pixel density for reading textual information from images of real pages of a physical book." Def.'s Mem. on Claim Constr. (docket no. 93) at 9. In its March 24 decision, the Court rejected Harpo's contention that the claim language covers only images of the actual pages of a physical book and therefore rejected Harpo's proposed construction.

In the claim construction chart submitted at the May 10 evidentiary hearing, Harpo offered a new proposed construction of "resolution": "pixel density." ICR maintains, as it has all along, that the correct construction is "sharpness to the eye." For the term "graded resolution," Harpo proposes "variations in pixel density"; ICR proposes "variations in ...


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