Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Prods., Inc., No. 09 C 4348, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 23, 2011) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve construed the the claims of counter-plaintiff Hearthware’s patent involving halogen convection ovens. Of particular note, the Court construed the following terms:
- "A cooking enclosure" means "an oven housing and a metallic oven pan supported by a base." This definition fit with the language of the abstract and the summary of the invention.
- "A fan" means "one or more fans." The Court declined Morningware’s argument that fan be limited to the fan described in the preferred embodiment.
- "A fan chamber" means "one or more enclosed spaces, through which a fan moves air, that are in the power head and above both the cooking enclosure and the heating unit." The Court held that a more particular definition proposed by Morningware would require improper importation of limitations into the claims from the specification.
Civix-DDI, LLC v. Hotels.com, No. 05 C 6869, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 25, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve construed the terms of the patents-in-suit to internet technology. From a procedural standpoint, the Court did the parties and readers of the opinion the favor of identifying the Court’s construction in a bulleted list at the beginning of the opinion, as well as at the end. Lists of the construed terms and their construction opinions make claim constructions far more readable.
Of particular note, the Court construed the following terms:
- "Associated category" means "a classification both stored in the database and provided or selected by a user that divides particular items of interest into subgroups." The Court gave "little weight" to a construction from a prior case which the parties in that case stipulated to because defendants in this case were not parties to that case, nor did they have privity with the prior defendants.
- "Connected to" means "joined together or linked to, in a direct or indirect manner." Because neither the claim language nor the specification exclude an indirect connection, the construction included both direct and indirect connections.
- "Database" means "a collection of related information organized for convenient access." The Court accepted the construction from the prior case because it was supported by the intrinsic evidence. Nothing in the claims or specifications required a single device as proposed by defendants.
- "Internet" means "a system of linked computer networks, worldwide in scope, that is typically associated with using TCP/IP as a standard protocol." This was the Court’s construction from the prior case, but it was reached after a de novo review of the construction and all relevant evidence. Additionally, "Internet" and "internet" were construed to mean the same thing.
- "User" means "a human being."
- "Video" means "a presentation of multiple sequential frames of image data." The construction was intended to create a distinction between digital pictures and video.
- "Within a radius about the one port" means "within a circular area the center of which is the user’s present physical location."
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.