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Info-Hold, Inc. v. Applied Media Techs. Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

April 24, 2015

INFO-HOLD, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
APPLIED MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in No. 08-CV-0802, Judge Timothy S. Black.

DANIEL JOSEPH WOOD, Info-Hold, Inc., Cincinnati, OH, JAMES L. KWAK, Standley Law Group LLP, Dublin, OH, argued for plaintiff-appellant.

RAYMOND R. FERRERA, Adams & Reese LLP, Houston, TX, argued for defendant-appellee. Also represented by MELISSA STOK RIZZO, DONALD A. MIHOKOVICH, Tampa, FL.

Before REYNA, WALLACH, and TARANTO, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1263

Reyna, Circuit Judge

This case comes before us on appeal of a final judgment that Applied Media Technologies Corporation (" AMTC" ) does not infringe U.S. Patent No. 5,991,374 (" '374 patent" ). Info-Hold, owner of the '374 patent, asserted the patent against AMTC and Muzak LLC in separate suits before the same judge in the Southern District of Ohio. Those suits led to separate appeals, which were argued on the same day before the same panel. We address the issues raised in Info-Hold's appeal in the Muzak suit in a separate opinion.

We find the district court adopted a construction that improperly narrowed the scope of the claims. We reverse the district court and remand for further proceedings consistent with our opinion.

Background

The '374 patent is directed to systems, apparatuses, and methods for playing music and messages (e.g., advertisements) through telephones and public speaker systems. Playback order of the music and message tracks is set on a remote server. The remote server generates and sends control signals to message playback devices, telling them to access and play back tracks in a specified order. One use of the disclosed technology involves directing the output of the message playback devices to a public address system at retail stores, so customers can hear the music and advertisements while shopping. The output of the message playback device can also be directed to a music-on-hold (" MOH" ) system, which plays the tracks over the telephone to callers who are on hold.

In January 2010, an ex parte reexamination proceeding was initiated on the '374 patent. After amendment of some claims and cancellation of others, the '374 patent emerged from reexamination. Reexamined independent claim 7 is representative of the technology claimed in the '374 patent and recites:

7. A programmable message delivery system for playing messages on message playback devices at one or more remote sites comprising:
a communication link;
a plurality of message playback devices, each of said message playback devices communicating with a respective telephone system and comprising a storage device for storing messages and for playing selected ones of said messages through an output of said message playback device when a caller is placed on hold; and
a computer remotely located from said plurality of message playback devices and operable to generate and transmit control signals via said communication

Page 1264

link for controlling at least one of said plurality of message playback devices;

each of said plurality of message playback devices being adapted to receive said control signals via said communication link and being programmable to access at least one of said messages from said storage device and to provide said accessed message to said output in accordance with said control signals when a caller is placed on hold ;

wherein said computer comprises a display device and is programmable to generate screens on said display device that include user selectable menu items for selection by an operator to define relationships between said plurality of message playback devices and said messages, the screens guiding an operator to make choices selected from the group consisting of which of said messages are to be played, which of said plurality of message playback devices are to play said selected messages, a time of day when said control signals are to be transmitted to said message playback devices, a date on which said control signals are to be transmitted to ...

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