GeoTag Inc v. Frontier Communications Corp et al, No. 2:2010cv00265 - Document 1819 (E.D. Tex. 2014)
Court Description: MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER -. Signed by Judge Rodney Gilstrap on 1/29/2014. (ch, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS MARSHALL DIVISION GEOTAG, INC., Plaintiff, v. FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP., et al., Defendants. § § § § § § § § § § § CASE NO. 2:10-CV-00265-JRG LEAD CASE MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Before the Court is Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment of Non-Infringement Based on Lack of Topical Organization and/or Searchable Topics (Dkt. No. 1099), filed September 23, 2013. The moving defendants argue that no triable issue of material fact exists as to whether their accused products practice limitations of U.S. Patent No. 5,930,474 ( the 474 Patent ) requiring topical organization of a database and topical searches. The Court held a hearing on this motion on November 8, 2013, at which the Court indicated that the motion would be taken under advisement. Having considered the briefing and the arguments of both sides, the Court now finds that the motion should be and is hereby DENIED, for reasons set forth below. I. BACKGROUND The 474 Patent, titled Internet Organizer for Accessing Geographically and Topically Diverse Information, was issued on July 27, 1999. Its claims relate to a method, system, and apparatus for searching information both topically and geographically, wherein information relevant to one geographical area is dynamically replicated into a database relevant to another geographical area. The accused instrumentalities in this case are web sites or mobile applications involving geographical data. With few exceptions, these fall into four broad categories: (a) online yellow pages -type sites that are designed to help consumers locate businesses near a geographical area; (b) store-locator functionalities on the web sites of brick-and-mortar retailers; (c) mobile store locator apps ; and (d) job locator sites that help potential applicants find nearby employment. Independent Claims 1, 20, and 31, all asserted in this suit, each require that database entries corresponding to particular geographic areas be organized into topics or into one or more topics within the database. The Court has determined that the term topic should be given its plain meaning in the context of the patent (Dkt. No. 472, at 62). Claims 1 and 20 also require a search engine configured to search geographically and topically. In his expert report, GeoTag s infringement expert identifies database entries such as store addresses, phone numbers, or store hours as topical information meeting the limitations requiring topical organization of the accused databases. He argued that accused store locators met topical search limitations, either by searching directly on the basis of topics such as the availability of certain store features, e.g., a grocery store with pharmacy facilities, or by searching implicitly, for instance, by automatically returning data as to store hours when a user searches geographically. II. LEGAL STANDARDS Summary judgment is proper if the pleadings and evidence show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-55 (1986). A genuine issue is an issue that can be resolved only by a finder of fact because . . . [it] . . . may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. When the summary judgment movants demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over any material fact, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show there is a genuine factual issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Monarch Knitting Machinery Corp. v. Sulzer Morat GmbH, 139 F.3d 877, 880 (Fed. Cir. 1998). III. ANALYSIS Moving defendants argue that they do not infringe as a matter of law because no reasonable jury could find that Defendants databases meet the topical organization and search requirements of the 474 patents, in spite of Plaintiffs expert s testimony that those limitations are in fact met. Though the mere ipse dixit of an expert witness is not, by itself, sufficient to establish a triable issue of material fact, the Court is reluctant to grant summary judgment over an expert s infringement testimony unless the expert s methodology is clearly flawed, his or her conclusions are legally insufficient to support a verdict, or her conclusions are clearly unreasonable. Here, it is by no means clear that none of the topics cited in Plaintiff s expert reports are adequate to sustain a finding that the topical organization limitations are met. Similarly, a reasonable jury could find that implicit database searches fulfill the requirements of the 474 patent. The Court is not prepared to find that Plaintiff s infringement theories are so unreasonable that they should not reach a jury. IV. CONCLUSION The moving defendants have failed to carry their burden of proving that there is no triable issue of material fact with respect their cases. Accordingly, Defendants Motion (Dkt. No. 1099) should be and is hereby DENIED. So Ordered and Signed on this Jan 29, 2014
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