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Court construes claims in cybersecurity patent dispute | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


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Where the parties disputed the construction of 10 claim terms in five cybersecurity patents that relate to systems and methods for evaluating packets of information travelling through a network, they were construed by the court.

Background

Centripetal Networks LLC sued Palo Alto Networks Inc., or PAN, alleging infringement of five cybersecurity patents that relate to systems and methods for evaluating packets of information travelling through a network. The parties dispute the construction of 10 claim terms and have asked the court to construe those terms.

Configured

The term “configured,” or its variations, appear in multiple claims. Centripetal argues that “configured” should be construed to include “capable of,” whereas PAN argues that “configured” should be interpreted to mean that the functionality cited in the claim is pre-existing and does not require modification to occur. Because the patent claims do not include conditional language that supports a “capable of” interpretation, the court adopts PAN’s construction.

Network exfiltration methods

The term “network exfiltration methods” appears in claims 16 and 25 of the ’380 patent. The parties’ disagreement turns on the issue of whether “network exfiltration methods” refers to exfiltrations which are unauthorized and conducted by either malware or a malicious actor or also include inadvertent or accidental actions. The specification and Centripetal’s statements to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, or PTAB, support PAN’s construction: “the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer by malware or a malicious actor.”

Responsive to

“Responsive to [the correlating]” appears in claims 1 and 9 of the ’573 patent and in claim 10 of the ’903 patent while “based on [the determined correlation]” appears in claims 1, 12, and 17 of the ’797 patent. Centripetal argues that the plain and ordinary meaning is apparent from the context of the claims while PAN proposes “in reaction to.” The court finds that a person of ordinary skill in the art, or POSITA, would understand the plain and ordinary meaning of “responsive to” and “based on” — in the context which they appear — to mean that correlating is the impetus for the remedial action.

Header region

The term “header region of the identified at least one application packet” appears in claim 16 of the ’380 patent. Centripetal proposes its plain and ordinary meaning while PAN proposes “application layer header of the identified at least one application packet.” The court adopts PAN’s construction.

Malicious network traffic

The term “malicious network traffic” appears in claims 1 and 8 of the ’437 patent. Centripetal’s proposes its plain and ordinary meeting be adopted while PAN proposes “network traffic intended to do harm.” The court finds that “intended to do harm” is not supported by the claim language, specification or extrinsic evidence, and is narrower than how a POSITA would understand the term “malicious network traffic” in the context of the patent. Accordingly, the court rejects PAN’s proposed construction and adopts the plain and ordinary meaning of the term.

Packets

The term “packets” appears in all five asserted patents. In fact, it is a central term in each patent, as each of the patents describe various methods and systems for evaluating packets of information travelling through a network. Centripetal proposes the plain and ordinary meaning in the context of the claim in which the term appears while PAN proposes “data units for transmission over a network that each include a header and payload, where the payload may be empty.” The court finds that this dispute is best resolved by adopting the plain and ordinary meaning of the term in the context which it appears.

Plurality

The term “a plurality of packet security gateways that collectively provide an entire interface across a boundary of a network” appears in claim 8 of the ’437 patent. Centripetal proposes the plain and ordinary meaning. PAN proposes “two or more packet security gateways arranged such that there is no network path across a boundary of a network that bypasses the packet security gateways.” The court adopts PAN’s proposed construction.

Provision

The term “provision a packet security gateway … with one or more packet filtering rules” appears in the claim 8 of the ’437 patent. Centripetal proposes its plain and ordinary meaning. PAN proposes “communicating one or more packet filtering rules to a packet security gateway.” The court adopts the plain and ordinary meaning of the term.

Rule(s)

The term “rule(s)” appears in multiple claims in multiple patents. Centripetal has proposed “a condition or set of conditions that when satisfied cause a specific function to occur.” PAN has proposed “an identification of a condition or set of conditions and the specific function(s) to perform when met.” The court adopts Centripetal’s proposed construction.

Centripetal Networks LLC v. Palo Alto Networks Inc., Case No. 2:21-cv-00137, Oct. 11, 2023. EDVA at Norfolk (Hanes). VLW 023-3-653. 32 pp.

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