The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) found the District Court for the Southern District of New York erred in its claim construction of critical claim terms in Shindler Elevator Corp. et al. v. Otis ElevatorCompany,  2009-1146 (CAFC, January 15, 2010).  As a result, the District Court’s summary judgment of non-infringement by Otis of US Patent 5,689,094 (“the ‘094 patent”) ruling was vacated.   The accused elevator control system was installed at 7 World Trade Center in New York City.
The ‘094 patent includes two independent claims, both of which include the disputed terms at issue:   “information transmitter” and “recognition device”.
In Fig. 2, the recognition devices 5 mounted in access areas 33 and 34. When a passenger 35 is recognized in access area 33, an elevator is dispatched, and a display device 18, which is mounted above the elevator door and/or at an input device 19, tells the passenger which elevator to take. A proposed destination floor is announced acoustically or is displayed visually on display device 18. If the passenger wishes to change his destination floor, he may do so manually at input device 19.

Claim 1 is representative of the asserted claims and includes the disputed claim elements “information transmitter” (and “recognition device”. 
1. An elevator installation having a plurality of elevators comprising:
a recognition device for recognizing elevator calls entered at an entry location by an information transmitter carried by an elevator user, initializing the entry location as a starting floor of a journey;
a control device receiving the recognized elevator call and allocating an elevator to respond to the elevator call, through a predetermined allocating algorithm;
a call acknowledging device comprising one of a display device and an acoustic device to acknowledge recognition of the elevator call and to communicate a proposed destination floor to the elevator user;
the recognition device, mounted in the access area in the vicinity of the elevators and spatially located away from elevator doors, actuating the information transmitter and comprising a unit that independently reads data transmitted from the information transmitter carried by the elevator user and a storage device coupled between the unit and the control device;
the recognition device one of transmitting proposed destination floor data, based upon the data transmitted from the information transmitter, to the control device, and, transmitting elevator user specific data,  based upon individual features of the elevator user stored in the storage device, to the control device.
The District Court’s Claim Construction:
The district court construed “information transmitter” to mean “a device that communicates with a recognition device via electromagnetic waves, after being actuated by that recognition device, without requiring any sort of personal action by the passenger.”  It construed “recognition device” to mean “a device that actuates and reads data transmitted by an information transmitter without requiring any sort of personal action by the passenger.” Id. In the claim construction order, the district court declined to specify the particular kind of “personal action” prohibited under its construction, but stated that it “rules out, not just standing in front of the recognition device, or inputting data into the information transmitter by hand, but any and all types of personal action by the passenger.”
The district court issued its summary judgment ruling on November 17, 2008. Although it had previously said that “any and all types of personal action” were prohibited under its construction, the district court refined its understanding of “personal action” on summary judgment to expressly permit “walking into the monitored area.”
The CAFC Claim Construction and Analysis:
The CAFC majority held that the District Court’s claim construction was too narrow and construed the claims to allow the user to take “personal action” to the extent that he or she brings the “information transmitter” within range of the “recognition device”.
The majority relied upon the claim language, the specification and the file prosecution history to construe the claims.
Claim Language:
The majority found that in claim 1, the term “information transmitter” itself suggests that the transmitter is a thing, separate and apart from an “elevator user”, which transmits information. The claim also provides that “elevator calls [are] entered at an entry location by an information transmitter.” Thus, at least with regard to the transmission of information and the entry of calls, it is the information transmitter—not the elevator user—that performs these tasks.
Carrying a transmitter is thus a type of “personal action” that is expressly required in the claims. The majority held that nowhere does claim 1 limit the act of carrying to any specific manner of carrying.
Claim 7 depends from claim 1 and adds the phrase “wherein the recognition device reads a key having a code.”  Because a user would need to use his hands to bring the transmitter key within range of the recognition device to unlock the door, or to clock in or out of work, these types of personal action are implicitly permitted in claim 7 and, by extension, in claim 1.
The phrase “personal action” is used only once in the specification, in the following sentence:
The advantages achieved by the invention reside in the fact that the desired journey destination is communicated automatically to the elevator control by [(1)] the information transmitters carried by the elevator users or by [(2)] the recognition of features of the elevator users without any personal action being required by the passenger.
The majority supports the broad reading of personal action, because a passenger would need to place his hand on the optical recognition device for it to read his fingerprints, this cannot be the “personal action” to which the sentence refers.
Prosecution History:
The majority interpreted the prosecution where it describes the invention as operating “automatically, contactlessly, and independently of the orientation of the information transmitter” as modification actions that take place only after the passenger has brought the transmitter within range of the recognition device—specifically, the actuation of the transmitter, the entry of call commands, and the selection of a destination floor.  The majority therefore concluded that applicants’ statement during the prosecution did not constitute a “clear and unmistakable” disavowal of personal action for the limited purpose of bringing the transmitter within range of the recognition device. Instead, the majority read the prosecution history in this case “as support for the construction already discerned from the claim language and confirmed by the written description.” citing 800 Adept, Inc. v. Murex Sec., Ltd., 539 F.3d 1354, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2008).
The dissent agrees that the “without requiring any sort of personal action” construction imposed by the district judge unduly limited the scope of the claims.  Dependent claim 7 contemplates using a key (or a card swipe) to enter the building and at the same time transmitting the user’s elevator data.  In other words, the device would be “hands-free” and “automatic” even though the user has to take elaborate action to bring the device within range.
The specification and prosecution history make no such distinction, and consistently emphasize the hands-free and automatic nature of the device without regard to whether it is in range or not.
The majority disputes the dissent’s position in footnote 2, stating that “The embodiment was not “abandoned,” it simply was never claimed in the application that led to this particular patent.” 2009-1146 at page 11, fn 2. 
That raises the question of how does abandoned compare with the well established rule that disclosed, but unclaimed matter is dedicated to the public. Johnson & Johnston Associates, Inc. v. R.E. Service Co., Nos. 99-1076, -1179, -1180, 2002 WL 466547 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 28, 2002) (en banc) (per curiam).   There were no divisional patent applications filed from this application that resulted in the ‘094 patent, so according to Johnson & Johnson, the embodiment was dedicated to the public.  This case leaves open the question:  what is the difference between “abandonment” and “dedication to the public”?
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