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Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

November 15, 2016

UNWIRED PLANET, LLC, Appellant
v.
GOOGLE INC., Appellee

         Appeals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in Nos. IPR2014-00036, CBM2014-00005.

          William M. Jay, Goodwin Procter LLP, Washington, DC, argued for appellant. Also represented by Eleanor M. Yost; Brett M. Schuman, David Zimmer, San Francisco, CA.

          Jon Wright, Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox, PLLC, Washington, DC, argued for appellee. Also represented by Michael V. Messinger, Deirdre M. Wells, Joseph E. Mutschelknaus; Peter Andrew Detre, Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Adam R. Lawton, Los Angeles, CA.

          Before Reyna, Plager, and Hughes, Circuit Judges.

          Reyna, Circuit Judge.

         Unwired Planet, LLC ("Unwired") appeals from the final written decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("Board") in Inter Partes Review ("IPR") No. 2014-00036 and Covered Business Method ("CBM") Patent Review No. 2014-00005. Google Inc. v. Unwired Planet, LLC, IPR2014-00036, 2015 WL 1478653 (P.T.A.B. Mar. 30, 2015) ("IPR Final Decision"); Google Inc. v. Unwired Planet, LLC, CBM2014-00005, 2015 WL 1519056 (P.T.A.B. Mar. 30, 2015) ("CBM Final Decision"). For the reasons stated below, we affirm the Board's decision that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 7, 024, 205 (the "'205 patent") are invalid as obvious in the IPR appeal and dismiss the CBM appeal as moot.

         Background

         U.S. Patent No. 7, 024, 205

         The '205 patent is entitled "Subscriber Delivered Location-Based Services." It describes a system and method for providing wireless network subscribers (e.g., cell phone users) with prioritized search results based on the location of their mobile device (e.g., the nearest gas station). The specification describes how search results can be personalized for subscribers by taking into account, for example, "favorite restaurants; automobile service plans; and/or a wide variety of other subscriber information." '205 patent col. 2 ll. 18-19.

         In contrast, the specification also describes how search results can be ordered to give priority to "preferred service providers defined by the network administrator." Id. at col. 8 ll. 35-36. This allows the network to generate revenue by charging service providers to be put on the preferred-service-provider list. Id. at col. 8 ll. 46-52. Preferred-provider status, in turn, leads to preferred providers' listings being prioritized in search results provided to subscribers.

         Prioritization based on subscriber information and preferred provider status is independent of a subscriber's location; hence, it can lead to service providers that are actually farther away from the subscriber being given priority over service providers that are nearer. As a consequence, the results returned to the subscriber can order preferred providers and other service providers that are farther away higher than nearer service providers. The parties and the Board refer to this result as "farther-over-nearer ordering, " although that term is not used in the patent.

         The sole independent claim of the '205 patent, claim 1, claims farther-over-nearer ordering in the context of wireless location-based services through a series of method steps. We treat claim 1 of the '205 patent as representative and dispositive because the parties do not argue that any limitations of the dependent claims alter the obviousness analysis in the context of the asserted prior art. Relevant here, it claims:

identifying, on said network platform, first and second service providers and associated first and second service provider information[, ] . . . wherein said first service provider is farther from [a] mobile unit than said second service provider; [and]
***
based on said stored prioritization information, prioritizing said first and second service provider information, wherein said first [farther] location information is assigned a higher priority than said second [nearer] location information; and outputting both said first and second service information on said mobile unit based upon said step of prioritizing.

'205 patent, cl. 1, col. 10 ll. 27-57.

         Asserted Prior Art

         Five asserted prior art references are relevant to the ...


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