Patrick F. Solon, Niro, Haller & Niro, of Chicago, IL, argued for plaintiff-appellant. With him on the brief was Oliver D. Yang.
Scott W. Doyle, Shearman & Sterling, LLP, of WA, DC, argued for defendants-appellees. With him on the brief were Jonathan R. Defosse and Michel E. Souaya.
Before LOURIE, PROST, and TARANTO, Circuit Judges.
TARANTO, Circuit Judge.
Ibormeith IP, LLC, the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 6,313,749, appeals a district court's grant of summary judgment of indefiniteness in favor of defendants Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, and Daimler AG (collectively, " Mercedes" ). We affirm.
U.S. Patent No. 6,313,749, entitled " Sleepiness Detection for Vehicle Driver or Machine Operator," addresses the monitoring of conditions affecting, or behavior reflecting, a vehicle driver's sleepiness and the issuing of a warning to the driver before the driving is unduly impaired. '749 patent, col. 1, lines 5-17; id. at col 2, lines 55-62. The monitor disclosed in the patent may take into account multiple factors associated with sleepiness, including natural body-clock (circadian) rhythm, the magnitude and number of corrective steering actions the driver is taking, the cabin temperature, the monotony of the road, and how long the driver has been driving. Id. at col. 2, lines 55-62; see id. at col. 12, line 25 through line 39. Some factors involve actions or conditions at the moment, like steering behavior and light conditions, which are measured by sensors in the vehicle. See id. at col. 3, lines 43-45; id. at col. 6, lines 14-17; id. at col. 6, lines 61-64. Others involve general or driver-specific background information, such as circadian rhythm or a driver's recent sleep patterns and alcohol consumption, which are not measured by sensors but must be input into the monitor by other means ( e.g., by the programmer or the driver). Id. at col. 3, lines 45-49. The factors are " individually weighted, according to contributory importance, and combined in a computational decision algorithm or model, to provide a warning indication of sleepiness." Id. at col. 3, lines 39-42.
Claims 1 and 9 of the '749 patent are the two independent claims at issue. Both claims contain a " computational means" element that is undisputedly subject to the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) for claims to means of performing specified functions. Claim 1 requires that the means take account of sleepiness-related time-of-day information to determine the likelihood of driver sleepiness and to produce an output that, according to a separate claim element, triggers a warning. '749 patent, col. 16, lines 21-30. Claim 1 reads:
A sleepiness monitor for a vehicle driver, or machine operator, comprising:
a sensor for sensing a driver or operator control input;
a memory for storing an operational model that includes a physiological reference model of driver or operator circadian rhythm pattern(s) and a vehicle or machine operating model or algorithm;
computational means for weighting the operational model according to time of day in relation to the driver or operator circadian rhythm pattern(s) and for deriving, from the weighted model, driver or operator sleepiness condition and producing an output determined thereby; and
a warning indicator triggered by the computational means output, to provide a warning indicator of driver or operator sleepiness.
Whereas claim 1 does not specify what driver conduct or ...