Cronos Technologies, LLC v. Expedia, Inc. et al.

Cronos Technologies, LLC v. Expedia, Inc. et al. is an appeal involving claim construction decided by the Federal Circuit on Aug 17, 2017. Cronos Technologies asserted US Patent No 5,664,110 against against Expedia.com, Priceline.com, and Travelocity.com in Delaware.

The ‘110 patent relates to web services and discloses a system for customer order processing. The district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement to the defendants. Cronos Technologies appealed the summary judgment ruling, as well as the district court’s construction of the terms, “item code”, “identifying code”, and the user-input terms.

The Federal Circuit ruled with the defendants and agreed with the district court’s claim construction. The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the terms “item code” and “identifying code” were different from “user-discernable information”. Under the district court’s construction, the claim terms “item code” and “identifying code” do not contain user discernable information. This construction was one of the central issues of Cronos Technologies’ infringement theory which involved user search parameters. Cronos Technologies argued that a user’s search parameters are equivalent to the “item codes” of the claimed systems of the defendants. However, the search parameters were found by the district court judge to be “user discernable representations of products or services offered on defendants’ systems”. Because the “item codes’ and “identifying code” terms do not contain user discernable information under the construction and because the search parameters of the defendants’ systems do include user discernable information, the defendants’ systems were held not to infringe. The Federal Circuit agreed that no reasonable jury could find otherwise.

With regard to the doctrine of equivalents theory of infringement, the Federal Circuit pointed out that the ‘110 patent “specifically excludes user-discernable information from being contained within item codes and identifying codes”. Therefore, the court concluded that there could be no infringement of ‘110 patent under the doctrine of equivalents.

The take away from this case is clear – claim construction can make or break you.

Opinion here: Cronos Technologies v. Expedia