Semcon IP v. Amazon.com, Inc.
CLAIM CONSTRUCTION MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Claim Construction B
The Parties’ Positions
Plaintiff submits: The meaning of these terms is clear without construction. As the Court held in Huawei, changing the voltage while instructions are being executed does not require that the clock remain “operational at all times during the voltage change.” Dkt. No. 48 at 15.
In addition to the claims themselves, Plaintiff cites the following intrinsic and extrinsic evidence to support its position: Intrinsic evidence: ’061 Patent col.6 ll.16–29. Extrinsic evidence: Carbonell Decl.9 ¶¶ 42–46 (Plaintiff’s Ex. E, Dkt. No. 48-6 at 18–19); Thornton Decl. ¶¶ 58–60 (Plaintiff’s Ex. F, Dkt. No. 48-7 at 24–25).
Defendant responds: These terms need to be construed to clarify that the core clock of the processor is not stopped and instructions are executed “at least during some point in the period of time that the voltage is changing between a first and a second voltage.” This is the rationale underlying the Court’s holding in Huawei. This is distinct from a situation in which the clock is active and instructions are executed after the command to change the voltage and before the voltage actually begins to change, but the clock is not active and instructions are not executed while the voltage is actually changing. During prosecution of the ’061 Patent, the patentee distinguished the prior art on this point—the clock is active or instructions are executed at some point during an actual change in voltage. Dkt. No. 50 at 12–14.
In addition to the claims themselves, Defendant cites the following intrinsic and extrinsic evidence to support its position: Intrinsic evidence: ’061 Patent File Wrapper August 3, 2004 Amendment and Response at 16–17 (Defendant’s Ex. K, Dkt. No. 50-12 at 17–18), September 15, 2005 Reasons for Allowance at 2 (Defendant’s Ex. C, Dkt. No. 50-4 at 6), March 6, 2006 Reasons for Allowance at 2 (Defendant’s Ex. A, Dkt. No. 50-2 at 6); ’708 Patent File Wrapper August 2, 2007 Reasons for Allowance at 2 (Defendant’s Ex. B, Dkt. No. 50-3 at 6). Extrinsic evidence: Thornton Decl. ¶ 59 (Defendant’s Ex. H, Dkt. No. 50-9 at 24–25).
Plaintiff replies: The Court did not hold in Huawei that the “core clock” must be functional at some point during a voltage change. This is important because while execution of instructions may require operation of a clock, it does not necessarily require operation of the core clock. Further, the patents do not distinguish between the point at which the voltage change is caused and the point at which the voltage actually changes. Dkt. No. 53 at 7–8.
The main issue in dispute is whether the claimed execution of instructions during a voltage change necessarily requires operation of the “core clock.” It does.
To begin, the construction in Huawei was directed to resolving the dispute over whether the clock must run at all times during a voltage change. Huawei, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108040, at *37. The Court there held that while “the clock is necessarily operational at least at some point during the voltage change” it is not “not necessarily … operational at all times during the voltage change.” Id. at *37–40. That is, in order to execute instructions, or to be able to execute instructions,10 during the voltage change the clock must be operational at some point during the voltage change. Id. The Court held that this is the plain meaning of the terms. The Court reiterates that holding here and further clarifies that the plain meaning of “changing the … voltage” and similar constructs is that the voltage change is actual, not simply requested or initiated or otherwise desired but not realized. The issue of which clock is used for executing instructions was not before the Court in Huawei.
In the Asserted Patents, the “core clock” must be enabled for a processor to be capable of executing instructions during the voltage change. For example, the patents provide:
The [frequency] generator 17 responds to values furnished by control software executing on the processor to produce from the slow clock a core clock for operation of the processing unit 16, one or more clocks for operation of the various system memory components shown as system memory 14 in the figure, the system bus, and any other components which might utilize a separate clock.
’061 Patent col.3 ll.20–23 (emphasis added). From this, the Court understands that the processor/processing-unit clock is the core clock. The patents further provide ways in which the processor voltage change will not disrupt the frequency generator so the instructions may be executed while the voltage is changing:
For example, if increases of approximately 50 millivolts are enabled, then the frequency generator will remain stable during the voltage increase and a system reset will not occur. This offers the advantage that the processor may continue to execute commands during the period in which the voltage change is taking place.
Id. at col.6 ll.24–29. From this, the Court understands that the processor is able to execute instructions during a voltage change because the core clock continues to operate during a voltage change. In contrast, the processor is shut down by shutting down the core clock for a frequency change. Id. at col.6 ll.32 – col.7 l.5 (“operations of the processor are prepared for shut down,” and the “sequencer … shut[s] down the core clock”). If the processor is able to execute commands during the voltage change based on other clocks, like the slow clock used by the generator to produce the core clock, the “advantage” of proceeding with a voltage change so as to not disrupt the frequency generator is illusory and the need to shut down operations of the processor for a frequency change is nonsensical. Further, the patents provide using an external clock for purposes other than continued execution of instructions during the voltage change but describe execution of instructions solely with respect to the core clock. See, e.g., id. at col.6 l.61–63.
The continued operation of the core clock to enable execution of instructions during the voltage change is ostensibly a point of novelty for the Asserted Patents. During prosecution of the ’061 Patent, the patentee explained that “executing instructions …while changing voltage …” means “instructions … are clocked through a computer processor while changing the voltage.” ’061 Patent File Wrapper, August 3, 2004 Response at 16, Dkt. No. 50-12 at 17. This was a distinction over the prior art because the prior art disclosed that the “voltage change … occur[s] when the processor clock … is not running” and “[t]he processor cannot execute instructions while the processor clock is not running.” Id. at 17 (emphasis added), Dkt. No. 50-12 at 18. The patent examiner noted this distinction over the prior art in granting the ’061 and ’708 Patents. ’061 Patent File Wrapper March 6, 2006 Reasons for Allowance at 2 (“the processor does not stop the clock”), Dkt. No. 50-2 at 6; ’708 Patent Filer Wrapper August 2, 2007 Reasons for Allowance at 2 (“the processor is not suspended from executing instructions … meaning that the processor does not stop the clock”), Dkt. No. 50-3 at 6. Ultimately, the Court understands “executing instructions” during a voltage change refers to using the core clock to clock instructions through the processor. The processor of the claims is able to execute instructions during a voltage change because the core clock is enabled.
The Court rejects Defendant’s proposed construction, however. First, the proposed construction requires the processor to “not stop the core clock … and continue execution of instructions in the period of time that the voltage is changing.” While the Court understands that Defendant is not advocating that the clock is enabled at all times during a voltage change, Dkt. No. 50 at 13–14, its proposed construction seems to say just that. Second, some claims require only the ability to execute instructions while others require actual execution of instructions. For example, Claim 1 of the ’061 Patent recites “executing instructions in said computer processor while changing the voltage” and Claim 26 of the ’708 Patent recites “changing the operating voltage from a first voltage to a second voltage while the processing unit is enabled to execute instructions.”
Accordingly, the Court hereby construes these voltage-change terms by construing “executing instructions” and variants in those terms in the claims at issue as follows:
• “executing … instructions” means “executing … instructions using the core clock”;
• “execution of … instructions” means “execution of … instructions using the core clock”;
• “execute instructions” means “execute instructions using the core clock”; and
• “executes … instructions” means “executes … instructions using the core clock.”
Case No. 2:18-cv-00192