Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 20-1403 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Modern telecommunications systems using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offer clients optional features, such as caller-ID, call waiting, multi-line service, and different levels of service quality known as the “codec specification.” Uniloc’s 552 patent is directed to a system and method to police the use of those features, recognizing that the proliferation of intelligent client devices in communication networks requires providers to maintain control over the use of their networks’ features in order to continue generating revenue. To achieve that control, the patented system employs an enforcement mechanism within the provider’s core network through which clients send “signaling messages” for setting up their communication sessions.
On inter partes review, The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found certain claims (not including claims 18-22) invalid for obviousness in view of the Kalmanek patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Board’s construction of “intercepting” in the independent claims was erroneous; the claims encompass the situation in which a sending client device intentionally sends a signaling message to the intermediate network entity that performs the interception. Apple failed to show that claim 18 would have been obvious over Kalmanek.