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Semcon IP v. Amazon.com, Inc.

CLAIM CONSTRUCTION MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Claim Construction K



The Parties’ Positions

Plaintiff submits: The term “safe level,” in the context of the processor temperature, plainly means the maximum temperature level provided in published standards and specifications sheets for a processor. Dkt. No. 48 at 23–24.

In addition to the claims themselves, Plaintiff cites the following intrinsic and extrinsic evidence to support its position: Intrinsic evidence: ’708 Patent col.7 ll.37–41. Extrinsic evidence: Carbonell Decl. ¶ 67 (Plaintiff’s Ex. E, Dkt. No. 48-6 at 26–27).

Defendant responds: The Asserted Patents provide no guidance regarding what makes a particular level safe and “safe level” is not a term of art with definite meaning. Further, there is no indication in the patents that the operating levels specified in a product data sheet establishes what is or is not a “safe level.” Rather, the patents teach that it is possible to run the processor outside the specified levels, so long as the temperature stays below a “safe level.” Thus, there is no way to determine whether any particular level is a “safe level.” Dkt. No. 50 at 28–30.

In addition to the claims themselves, Defendant cites the following intrinsic and extrinsic evidence to support its position: Intrinsic evidence: ’708 Patent col.7 ll.32–52. Extrinsic evidence: Thornton Decl. ¶ 91 (Defendant’s Ex. H, Dkt. No. 50-9 at 36–37).

Plaintiff replies: Defendant’s position fails to account for the information available to persons of ordinary skill in the art; namely, product data sheets. In the context of this information, what constitutes a “safe level” is reasonably certain. Dkt. No. 53 at 12–13.

Plaintiff cites further extrinsic evidence to support its position: Carbonell Decl. ¶¶ 66–68 (Plaintiff’s Ex. E, Dkt. No. 48-6 at 25–27).

Analysis

The issue is whether the meaning of “safe level” for a processor’s temperature is reasonably certain to one of ordinary skill in the art. It is.

The meaning of the “safe level” of Claims 30, 32, 42, 44, 48, and 50 of the ’708 Patent is reasonably certain. The Asserted Patents provide:

  • It should be noted that at some point during the monitoring operation it may be found that the processor is functioning at a normal frequency and voltage, that the temperature of operation is below some preselected value, and that a series of processor-intensive commands have been furnished to be executed by the processor. In such a case, these characteristics suggest that it may be desirable to increase the voltage and frequency of operation in order to handle these commands for a period less than would raise operating temperatures beyond a safe level. In such a case, the control software may compute higher frequency and voltage values and a temperature (or a time within which temperature will not increase beyond a selected level) in order to cause the hardware to move to this higher frequency state of operation. In such a case, the processor executing the process illustrated effectively ramps up the frequency and voltage so that the processor “sprints” for a short time to accomplish the desired operations. This has the effect of allowing a processor which nominally runs at a lower frequency to attain operational rates reached by more powerful processors during those times when such rates are advantageous.

’061 Patent col.7 ll.40–61.


It is possible to clear a back-log of commands by increasing the processor’s operating frequency (its core clock) for a period of time. It is important, however, to keep the temperature of operation at a “safe level.” One of ordinary skill in the art would read this disclosure with the knowledge that processors are designed to be functional below a certain temperature. See Carbonell Decl. ¶ 67, Dkt. No. 48-6 at 26–27. Processor manufacturers provide the temperature beyond which the processor may no longer be operable. Id. With this context, it is reasonably certain that “safe level” refers to the temperature beyond which the processor may not function properly. Going beyond that level poses a risk that the processor will not function properly and defeat the purpose of increasing the frequency.

The claims involving a “safe level” of temperature parallel and are informed by the above-quoted overclocking description from the patent. For example, Claim 30 of the ’708 Patent depends from a series of claims related to increasing the processor frequency and voltage (Claim 27) for a period of time (Claim 28) less than required for temperature to increase beyond a “safe level” (Claims 29, 30). This closely parallels the overclocking disclosure in the patent. “Safe level” should be interpreted in the context of this disclosure and with the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art, and thus its meaning is reasonably certain.

Accordingly, Defendant has not proven any claim is indefinite for inclusion of the term “safe level.” The Court hereby construes “safe level” to mean “maximum operable temperature.”


Case No. 2:18-cv-00192

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