The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Absolute Software v. Stealth Signal reversed a District Court’s summary judgment ruling that Stealth Signal, Inc. did not infringe Absolute Software’s patents and remanded the issue of whether Stealth is infringing Absolute’s patents. The Court also affirmed the District Court’s summary judgment that Absolute did not infringe Stealth’s patent.
Absolute and Stealth are companies that sell competing software products designed to track lost or stolen portable electronic devices. One of the companies refers to this technology as “LoJack for Laptops.”
According to the Court, the Absolute patents
relate to a method, apparatus, and system for retrieving lost or stolen electronic devices such as laptop computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and cell phones, via a global network, such as the Internet. … Under the ’758 Patent, for example, the invention requires a software program (the “agent”) that can be loaded onto an electronic device, such as a laptop computer. Using a global network (e.g., the Internet), the agent software program communicates information about the identity and location of the protected electronic device to a host system, which the host system uses to track the whereabouts of the device.
And the Stealth patents include
[t]he ’269 Patent, which … generally describes an invention that remotely monitors electronic devices by imbedding in such devices an agent that makes surreptitious calls to a central monitoring site. The invention has two fundamental purposes: (1) to monitor the performance of an electronic device remotely, and (2) to detect the misuse of software, such as when it is installed on multiple computers without a license.
The court concluded that issues of fact precluded granting summary judgment of non-infringement to Stealth, holding that the record could support a jury finding that Stealth’s XTool Tracker (a software agent) gave both the IP address of the host tracking system and the IP address of the missing laptop.