Before Reyna, Taranto, and Hughes. Appeal from the Northern District of California.
Summary: Failure to use the word “means” creates a rebuttable presumption that the term is not a means-plus-function limitation invoking § 112 ¶ 6. That presumption was not overcome here because the challenger did not prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the claim terms failed to recite sufficiently definite structure.
Zeroclick sued Apple for patent infringement of claims directed to a method of operating a graphical user interface. In response, Apple asserted invalidity of those claims. The district court held that the challenged claims were invalid for indefiniteness, reasoning that the claim terms “program” and “user interface code” are means-plus-function limitations that fail to disclose sufficient structure. Zeroclick appealed.
The Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The Federal Circuit found that the district court erred in construing “program” and “user interface code” as means-plus-function limitations. The fact that neither of the limitations at issue uses the word “means” creates a presumption that § 112 ¶ 6 does not apply. The Federal Circuit noted that the presumption remained unrebutted because Apple failed to provide evidentiary support for its position that the limitations must be construed under § 112 ¶ 6. The Federal Circuit found that the district court erred by not giving effect to the unrebutted presumption and remanded the case to the district court.