On March 24, 2022, the Federal Circuit reversed Judge Albright’s indefiniteness finding in Dyfan, LLC v. Target Corp. The case is remanded for further proceedings.
On February 28, 2019, Dyfan, LLC (“Dyfan”) sued Target Corp. (“Target”) for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,973,899 and 10,194,292. The asserted patents cover a way of delivering messages based on user locations. Dyfan alleges infringement by Target’s mobile application, which updates available “deals” based on the user’s location. Target responded by arguing that each of the asserted claims is a means-plus-function claim lacking corresponding structure. On November 24, 2020, Judge Albright issued a claim construction order agreeing with Target and invalidating the patents for indefiniteness. Dyfan immediately sought review by the Federal Circuit.
A claim limitation is deemed a “means-plus-function” when it merely describes what the invention does, as opposed to how it accomplishes this function. However, unless the patent’s specification discloses structure that corresponds to the claimed function, it must be invalidated as indefinite.
In a unanimous decision, the Federal Circuit reversed. The Circuit noted that Judge Albright correctly began his indefiniteness analysis by stating that, for Target to overcome the presumption of patent validity, it “had to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that persons of ordinary skill in the art would not have understood the . . . limitations to connote structure in light of the claim as a whole.” Nonetheless, the Federal Circuit found that Judge Albright went on to “ignore key evidence – unrebutted deposition testimony from Target’s own expert . . . regarding how a person of ordinary skill would have understood the . . . limitations.” In fact, Target’s expert testified that the specifications did provide structure for people with relevant knowledge.
Because Target failed to offer any evidence rebutting this testimony, the Federal Circuit found that it had failed to satisfy its burden of showing indefiniteness. The case returns to the Western District of Texas for continued litigation.