The Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 24, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve ruled on the parties’ numerous summary judgment motions in this patent case involving garage door opener remote control technology.* The Court first addressed the controlling claim constructions. Judge Moran previously construed the claim terms, but on appeal those constructions were amended by the Federal Circuit. Plaintiffs argued that the Federal Circuit’s constructions were not binding and were open to further construction. But the Court held that the Federal Circuit’s constructions were the law of the case and were binding upon the parties. Because plaintiffs’ arguments for summary judgment of infringement were premised upon its own claim constructions, and not the Federal Circuit’s constructions, those motions were denied.
Next the Court considered whether there was a question of fact that the accused devices used "binary code" as required by the patents. The parties agreed that an absence of binary code would require a finding of noninfringement. But the parties disputed whether defendant Lear’s accused products used binary code. Ultimately the battle of the parties’ experts created a question of material fact precluding summary judgment of either infringement or noninfringement.
The Court granted plaintiffs summary judgment as to Lear’s argument that the asserted claims were not directed to patentable subject matter. Lear argued that plaintiffs’ claims simply covered algorithms, but the cases were directed to devices that were by definition not just algorithms.
Plaintiffs were also granted summary judgment as to Lear’s claim that plaintiff’s committed inequitable conduct by failing to disclose a particular patent to the Patent Office as prior art. Plaintiffs had provided the art to a prior examiner, in a parent application. Once a patent applicant submits prior art in a parent application, that art is considered disclosed in any progeny applications.
* Click here for much more on the case in the Blog’s archives.
Tanita Corp. v. Homedics-U.S.A, Inc., No. 08 C 7145, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 4, 2010) (Holderman, C.J.).
Judge Holderman construed the claims of plaintiff’s patent to a scale for measuring a person’s weight with a platform that had a clear outer layer so that instructions or warnings could be placed on the inner layer, but still be read by the user through the transparent outer layer. Of particular note, the Court construed the following terms:
- "Doughnut-shaped" meant a circular shape with a circular-type enclosed center opening." Plaintiff Tanita’s argument that it could be any shape with a center opening was not supported by the patent or dictionary definitions, which identified doughnuts as ring-like.
- The claim’s preamble was limiting because it stated the purpose or use of the invention and recited an essential part of its structure, a built-in weight meter.
Only the First, Ltd. v. Seiko Epson Corp., No. 07 C 1333 & 09 C 4655, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 29, 2010) (Dow, J.).
Judge Dow construed the claims of plaintiff’s patent covering a color printing system, and granted in part defendant’s motion for summary judgment of indefiniteness. Of particular note, the Court construed the following terms:
- The Court, by agreement, construed the base colors – violet, blue, green, yellow, orange and red – using the same wavelengths the Court used in construing a related patent earlier in the case — click here for that opinion in the Blog’s archives.
- As in the prior constructions, the Court held that the components of component colors (e.g., red and orange for orange-red) must have the highest intensity of all the components. Otherwise, a color ordered red, orange, blue and violet could be both orange-red and violet-blue, a nonsensical result.
- The Court held that the patentee gave "intensity" the same "unconventional" meaning — a synonym for "quantity" — as in the prior constructions because the two patents share a specification and the claims did not define the term differently.
- The Court held that the term "peak reflectance percentage" used in claims 7 and 9 was not supported by the specification and, therefore, those claims were invalid because they contained new matter. While a new matter determination is a question of fact, no reasonable jury could find support for peak reflectance percentage in the specification, warranting summary judgment.
- "Peak intensity" and "dominant intensity" were both indefinite. Pursuant to the Court’s construction of intensity, each color can only have a single intensity, rendering peak and dominant intensities nonsensical.
- The terms "cyan," "magenta," and "yellow" were indefinite to the extent that they were amenable to multiple constructions. The Court, however, used the narrowest possible constructions as follows: "cyan" was "green-blue"; "magenta" was "violet-red"; and "yellow" was "orange-yellow" or "green-yellow."
- "Each of a different color" was not indefinite. Color referred to the six claimed colors, as well as black and white. Shades of a color were not "different."