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ATEN International Co., Ltd. v. Uniclass Technology Co., Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

August 6, 2019

ATEN INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD., Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
UNICLASS TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., AIRLINK 101, PHOEBE MICRO, INC., BROADTECH INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD., DBA LINKSKEY, BLACK BOX CORPORATION, BLACK BOX CORPORATION OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendants-Appellees

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California in No. 2:15-cv-04424-AG-AJW, Judge Andrew J. Guilford.

          Laurence M. Sandell, Mei & Mark LLP, Washington, DC, argued for plaintiff-appellant. Also represented by Lei Mei.

          Joseph Pia, Pia Anderson Moss Hoyt, Salt Lake City, UT, argued for defendants-appellees. Also represented by Robert Aycock.

          Before Moore, Wallach, and Taranto, Circuit Judges.

          MOORE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         ATEN International Co., Ltd. ("ATEN") appeals the United States District Court for the Central District of California's denial of judgment as a matter of law ("JMOL"), which declined to overturn the jury's findings that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 8, 589, 141 are invalid as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102 and not infringed; and that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 7, 640, 289 are not infringed. For the reasons discussed below, we reverse as to invalidity and affirm as to noninfringement.

         BACKGROUND

         Uniclass Technology Co., Ltd. ("Uniclass") and ATEN are involved in making and selling keyboard-video-mouse ("KVM") switch systems that allow a user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video device, and mouse. ATEN sued Uniclass as well as Electronic Technology Co., Ltd.; Airlink 101; Phoebe Micro, Inc.; Broadtech International Co., Ltd. d/b/a Linkskey; Black Box Corporation; and Black Box Corporation of Pennsylvania (collectively, the "customer defendants") alleging, as relevant here, infringement of claims 3, 8, and 10 of the '141 patent and claims 1-20 of the '289 patent. The '141 patent is directed to technology for switching between computers that share a keyboard, monitor, and mouse through a KVM switch, such as a keyboard shortcut. '141 patent at 2:51- 61. Claim 3 depends from claims 1 and 2, and claim 8 depends from claim 1. Independent claim 1 recites:

1. A method for controlling a resource sharing apparatus coupling at least one input device to a plurality of hosts including a first host, the method comprising:

connecting the input device to the first host;

while the input device is connected to the first host, acquiring a first input signal from the input device and determining whether the first input signal comprises a standby indication of a switch command and wherein the standby indication is for indicating that connection between the input device and the first host can be changed; and

in response to a determination that the first input signal comprises the standby indication, disconnecting the input device from the first host without connecting the input device to any other host and starting emulating the input device to the first host; and acquiring a second input signal from the input device, wherein the second input signal is not transferred to the hosts when it is inputted to the resource sharing apparatus.

         The '289 patent is directed to technology for stringing together several KVM switches. '289 patent at 2:1-6. It provides that each KVM switch can detect whether it is a master or slave by, for example, detecting whether the port used to connect other KVM switches is occupied. Id. at 4:1- 4. Independent claim 1 recites:

1. A computer switch comprising:

a set of peripheral device ports for connecting to a set of peripheral devices;

a first port;

a second port;

a control device coupled to the first port and the second port, the control device repeatedly detecting whether the first port is occupied to repeatedly determine a master or slave status of the computer switch, wherein

if the first port is occupied, the control device determines the computer switch to be a slave and provides data to a first external computer switch connected to the first port, and

if the first port is unoccupied, the control device determines the computer switch to be a master and controls a second external computer switch connected to the second port and obtains data from the second external computer switch; and

a plurality of computer connection ports coupled to the control device for connecting to and controlling a plurality of computers, wherein the plurality of computers are controlled by the set of peripheral devices if the computer switch is determined to be a master, and are controlled by the first external computer switch connected to the first port if the computer switch is determined to be a slave.

         At trial, the jury found that Uniclass did not infringe the asserted claims of the '141 or '289 patents. It also found the asserted claims of the '141 patent were invalid as anticipated without specifying which reference was the basis for its finding. ATEN moved for JMOL, which the district court denied in the aspects relevant to this appeal.

         ATEN timely appealed. We have jurisdiction under 28 ...


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