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Google's Street View Back in Court, Fed. Cir. Vacates and Remands

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on March 18, 2014 3:54 PM

Google's not off the hook. What a California district court did to get it out of court was undone last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Vederi's Patents

The Google product up for debate is Street View. Vederi, LLC sued Google alleging that Google's Street View violates four of Vederi's patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,239,760; 7,577,316; 7,805,025; 7,813,596. The four patents together are for a "system and method for creating, storing, and utilizing composite images of a geographic location." That is, they define a method of "generating a composite image that provides a field of view that is wider than that provided by a single image." They all share common specification, and claim priority.

The District Court Analysis

The district court granted Google's motion for summary judgment finding Google's interpretation of the claim construction persuasive. The main debate surrounded the interpretation of the term "substantially elevations" which is used in the claims. An elevation, in the architectural sense, is a "projection of a building surface on to a vertical plane." According to Google, it did not infringe the patents because the claim only accounted for "vertical flat views," and Google's Street View images are curved or spherical. The district court agreed.

The Federal Circuit Analysis

The Federal Circuit, unlike the district court, did not agree with Google's interpretation because first, the district court's reading discredited the term "substantially" in the claim and rendered it meaningless. Second, the court looked at the specification of the patents and noted that they made provision for the use of a fish-eye lens, which always produces a curved, or spherical image. The Federal Circuit concluded, "the district court's confining claim construction does not account for important parts of the intrinsic record," and vacated the district court's decision, and remanded for further proceedings.

This case is far from over as far as Google is concerned, and thus far, Google has not commented, according to Bloomberg. It is now headed back to the District Court for the Northern District of California, where the court will have to proceed in accordance with the Federal Circuit's findings.

For more on how the case proceeds at the district court level, visit FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog.

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