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Robert Bosch, LLC v. Snap-On Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

October 14, 2014

ROBERT BOSCH, LLC, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
SNAP-ON INCORPORATED, a Delaware corporation, AND DREW TECHNOLOGIES, INCORPORATED, a Michigan corporation, Defendants-Appellees

Page 1095

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in No. 12-CV-11503, Judge Robert H. Cleland.

JONATHAN S. FRANKLIN, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, of Washington, DC, argued for plaintiff-appellant. With him on the brief were SHELIA KADURA, of Austin, Texas, ERIK G. SWENSON, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and GEORGE W. JORDAN, III, of Houston, Texas.

GARY M. ROPSKI, Brinks Gilson & Lione, of Chicago, Illinois, argued for defendants-appellees. With him on the brief were KORI ANNE BAGROWSKI and JAMES G. DEROUIN. Of counsel on the brief were JAMES K. CLELAND, JON H. BEAUPRÉ and JOHN A. LINGL, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Before PROST, Chief Judge, TARANTO and HUGHES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1096

Prost, Chief Judge

Plaintiff-Appellant Robert Bosch, LLC (" Bosch" ) appeals the decision from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan holding that all claims in U.S. Patent No. 6,782,313 (" '313 patent" ) are invalid as indefinite. See Robert Bosch LLC v. Snap-On, Inc., No. 12-11503, 2013 WL 4042664 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 9, 2013). We agree with the district court that the terms " program recognition device" and " program loading device" invoke 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6 (2010) and that the specification does not disclose corresponding structure for these terms. Therefore, we affirm the district court's holding that all claims in the '313 patent are invalid.

I. Background

Bosch owns the rights to the '313 patent, which claims a diagnostic tester that determines whether the computerized control unit in a motor vehicle needs to be reprogrammed. '313 patent col. 1 ll. 8-9, col. 1. l. 61-col. 2. l. 1. The claimed external diagnostic tester is made up of a " program recognition device" and a " program loading device," which are the only two claim terms at issue in this appeal. Both terms are recited in claim 1, the sole independent claim of the '313 patent, which is reproduced below:

1. An external diagnostic tester for motor vehicles, the motor vehicles having programmable control units with self-diagnostic means, wherein the control units can be connected to the external diagnostic tester via a diagnostic/test plug in the motor vehicle, the external diagnostic tester comprising,
a program recognition and program loading device, wherein a program version contained in a connected control unit is queried and recognized by means of the program recognition device, and, if the program available in the motor vehicle and recognized via the diagnostic/ test plug is not stored there in a latest and most current version, a respective most current version is loaded by the program loading device into a program storage device of the pertinent control unit of the motor vehicle, wherein the external diagnostic tester automatically establishes communication with a central dat[a] base in order to check the program version and, if necessary, to obtain the current program version that applies for the control unit connected to the diagnostic tester and to store it there.

Id. at col. 4 ll. 18-38 (emphases added).

The specification contains no figures, but it states that the " program recognition

Page 1097

device" connects to the motor vehicle via a diagnostic plug. '313 patent abstract, col. 2 ll. 22-24. The " program recognition device" then queries and recognizes the program version contained in the control unit of ...


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