Cheetah Omni LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc., No. 19-1264 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Cheetah’s 836 patent is directed to optical communication networks. AT&T uses hardware and software components in its fiber-optic communication networks. Cheetah asserted that AT&T infringes the 836 patent by making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing its fiber equipment and services. Ciena was allowed to intervene in the suit because it manufactures and supplies components for AT&T’s fiber-optic systems; those components formed the basis of some of Cheetah’s infringement allegations. Ciena and AT&T then moved for summary judgment that Cheetah’s infringement claim was barred by agreements settling previous litigation. Cheetah had sued Ciena and Fujitsu and executed two license agreements—one with Ciena and one with Fujitsu. Ciena and AT&T argued that the licenses included implicit licenses to the 836 patent covering all of the accused products. The district court dismissed the suit. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Cheetah’s argument that the parties did not intend that the licenses extend to the 836 patent. The court noted the presumption that a license to a patent includes a license to its continuation. The naming of certain patents expressly does not evince a clear mutual intent to exclude other patents falling within the general definitions in an agreement. That is especially true here where the licenses list broad categories of patents without reciting their numbers individually.