McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America, Inc., No. 19-1557 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
McRO’s patent describes a method for automatically generating animations, with a three-dimensional appearance, depicting lip movements and facial expressions. The method uses two basic building blocks: “phonemes” and “morph targets.” A “phoneme,” the patent explains, is “the smallest unit of speech, and corresponds to a single sound.” A “morph target” is a model of a mouth position—one “reference model” displays a “neutral mouth position,” while other models display “other mouth positions, each corresponding to a different phoneme or set of phonemes.”
McRO sued several video game developers alleging infringement of three method claims of the patent. The district court held the claims invalid for ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101, but the Federal Circuit reversed. On remand, the district court ultimately held that the developers were entitled to summary judgment of noninfringement because the accused products do not practice the claimed methods and to summary judgment of invalidity because the specification fails to enable the full scope of the claims.
The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of noninfringement, agreeing with the developers that the claim term “morph weight set” requires three-dimensional vectors. The court vacated the judgment of invalidity and remanded for further proceedings in light of, among other things, the developers’ offer to withdraw their counterclaims without prejudice.