Microsoft Must Pay Individual Inventor Reasonable Royalty “And” Interest

The word “and” in claim was construed as meaning “and/or”

Michael Philip Kaufman owns a patent on methods for using a computer to automatically generate an end-user interface for working with the data in a relational database. Mr. Kaufman accused Microsoft’s Dynamic Data product of infringing the patent, and a jury awarded Mr. Kaufman $7 million as a reasonable royalty. But the district court did not increase the award to include prejudgment interest.

Microsoft sought to have the judgment vacated because the claim stated that a client application “integrates into each said mode display processes for representing, navigating, and managing said relationships across tables,” pointing out that its product does not integrate all three types of processes into each mode display.

The Federal Circuit rejected that position because no process described in the sole embodiment of the specification integrates all of the enumerated processes. Thus, it evaluated the claim language with a strong presumption that it encompasses the situation where a mode display integrates some, but not all, of the enumerated processes.

Microsoft’s point, that “and” must carry its usual conjunctive meaning, could not meet the high bar required to conclude that the patent excludes the only embodiment described in the specification. Instead, the Federal Circuit noted that, in certain contexts, the word “and” can reasonably be understood to denote alternatives, rather than conjunctive requirements and, thus, a conjunctive construction was not the only reasonable way to interpret the claim.

The Federal Circuit also addressed whether Mr. Kaufman should be awarded prejudgment interest on the jury’s award, and ruled that interest should be added to his award. The Federal Circuit found that the amount the jury stated did not include prejudgment interest and that Microsoft failed to show it was prejudiced by any delay by Mr. Kaufman in bringing suit. While Microsoft claimed it could have altered its product to make it noninfringing, it provided no evidence it would have.