Phillips Claim Construction: Changed Methodology but Unchanged Results

PatentLawPic299Mangosoft v. Oracle (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Mangosoft’s patent covers a networked virtual memory system. The virtual memory is formed by pooling storage capacity on the local networked computers (nodes) rather than relying on a primary server.  Oracle’s Real Application Clusters do something similar – but use a cluster of memory devices (akin to a RAID).

The appeal focuses on the definition of a “local” storage device.  The CAFC agreed with the district court that the “local” limitation requires that the storage device be individually linked to a computer to form a network node.

Here, the district court had relied on a technical dictionary for its definition (in a pre-Phillips opinion). On appeal the CAFC again affirmed that dictionaries are still useful in claim construction. More particular to this case, however, the court found that virtually any system of claim construction would reject the patentee’s proposed broad construction.

“Having found support for the district court’s claim construction in the claim language, the specification, and the prosecution history …, we note that this construction is also consistent with the technical dictionary definition proffered by Oracle.”

Summary judgment of non-infringement is affirmed.

This case could be seen to emphasize the point that for the majority of claim construction decisions, Phillips altered the methodology but not the ultimate result. 


  • Mangosoft had originally sought $500 million in damages from Oracle.



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