Zeroclick, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 17-1267 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Zeroclick patents relate to modifications to the graphical user interfaces of devices such as computers and mobile phones, modifications that allow the interfaces to be controlled using pre-defined pointer or touch movements instead of mouse clicks. The claimed invention contemplates updating existing user interface programs by using a two-step method recited in claims 2 and 52 of the 691 patent, or by making two configuration changes to the user interface code as recited in claim 19 of the 443 patent. In Zeroclick’s suit against Apple, the district court found the asserted claims invalid for indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit vacated. The district court failed to undertake the relevant inquiry and make related factual findings to support its conclusion that the asserted claims recited means-plus-function terms, 35 U.S.C. 112. Given that “[t]he basic concept behind both of the patents-in-suit is relatively simple,” a person of ordinary skill in the art could reasonably discern from the claim language that the words “program” and “user interface code” are used not as generic terms or black box recitations of structure or abstractions, but rather as specific references to conventional graphical user interface programs or code, existing in prior art at the time of the inventions.