Albecker v. Contour Prods., Inc., No. 09 C 00631, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2013) (Chang, J.). Judge Chang decided the parties’ respective Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) motions for reconsideration: (1) plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s previous claim construction order; and (2) defendant’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s previous opinion … Continue Reading
Carrier Vibrating Equip., Inc. v. General Kinematics Corp., No. 10 C 5110, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2012) (Dow, J.). Judge Dow granted plaintiff Carrier Vibrating Equipment’s (“Carrier”) motion for summary judgment of validity and denied defendant General Kinematics’s cross motion for summary judgment of invalidity in this patent case related to controlling retention … Continue Reading
Hollister Inc. v. ConvaTec Inc., No. 10 C 6431, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 18, 2012) (Kennelly, J.). Judge Kennelly construed the terms in this patent dispute regarding fecal management systems: “Passed through” was construed as “passed inside.” “An enema one-way valve” was construed as “a device that enables forward fluid flow but prevents backward … Continue Reading
AmTab Mfg. Corp. v. SICO Inc., No. 11 C 2692, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 13, 2012) (Darrah, J.). Judge Darrah denied plaintiff AmTab’s motion for reconsideration of the Court’s prior claim construction order. While claim construction is an organic process that can be revised throughout a case, AmTab did not present any new arguments. … Continue Reading
The Medicines Co. v. Mylan Inc., No. 11 C 1285, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 6, 2012) (St. Eve, J.). Judge St. Eve construed the claims in this patent case related to bivalirudin. Of particular note: “Pharmaceutical Batches” was construed as “may include a single batch, wherein the single batch is representative of all commercial … Continue Reading
Fujitsu Ltd. v. Tellabs Ops., Inc., No. 09 C 4530, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 27, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.). Chief Judge Holderman construed an additional claim term – “transmitting” – one month before trial in this patent involving optical transmission systems. “Transmitting” was used as an adjective modifying “terminal,” and as a verb describing what … Continue Reading
AmTab Mfg. Corp. v. SICO, Inc., No. 11 C 2692, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. March 29, 2012) (Darrah, J.). Judge Darrah construed the disputed terms of the patent in suit related to a stool attaching to a folding table. Of particular note, the Court held as follows: “An elongate seat post having a substantially uniform … Continue Reading
Bergstrom, Inc. v. Glacier Bay, Inc., No. 08 C 50078, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 9, 2012) (Kapala, J.). Judge Kapala accepted a Special Master’s claim constructions with some modifications in this case involving heating and cooling systems for over-the-road trucks. The Court made the following holdings of particular note: “Minimum speed” meant “a minimum … Continue Reading
Magna Carta Holdings, LLC v. Nextgen Healthcare Information Sys., Inc., No. 08 C 7406, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 9, 2012) (Kendall, J.). Judge Kendall construed a key term in this patent litigation – the Comparator Term – after the parties each acknowledged that the Comparator Term’s construction would likely resolve the case. The Court … Continue Reading
Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., No. 11C 8540, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 16, 2012) (Posner, J. sitting by designation). In light of the upcoming trial of this case – in stages beginning with liability on June 11, 2012 – and the interest because of both the high profile parties and the fact that Seventh … Continue Reading
Judge Guzman construed the claim terms in this patent case involving flameless candles. Of particular note, the Court held:
The Court adopted defendant's ("ShopNBC") constructions of "upper portion" and "lower portion" because plaintiff Winvic waived its arguments by failing to propose claim construction.
"The upper portion having a concave surface defining a recess therein" was construed as "the upper portion of the candle-like like body having a surface that is hollowed inward or rounded inward, regardless of whether the inward shape has curved or square edges, and thereby defining a recess therein."
"Substantially in the recess" was construed as "a considerable degree within the limits of the recess."
"Chamber" was construed as "a confined space."
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Judge Leinenweber construed the claims of the patent related to displaying a product selection on a website. Of particular note:
"Using a computer program via a global computer network comprising the steps" was construed as "performing each step of the method in the computer program via a global computer network." While preambles generally are not limiting, this language was necessary to give "life, vitality and meaning to the claimant[s] and, therefore, was limiting.
"Steps" was defined as requiring that the steps be performed in sequential order. Logic required that the steps be performed sequentially and the specification supported the sequential requirement.
"Selecting" was construed as "to choose or make a choice, including moving a cursor into a box or area of the computer display screen containing depictions of fittings/features, which causes control to pass to an additional step."
"Permutation" was construed as "a visually perceptible structural variation or visually perceptible variation affecting the operating characteristics, specifications, or functionality of the product."
"Fitting" was construed as "a visually variable structural feature of a product or visually perceptible variation affecting the operating characteristics, specifications, or functionality of the product."
"Generating a composite image of said selected product" was construed as "a computer processor carrying out the instructions of a computer program, taking into account the user's selection input steps, to create a composite image." The claims were not step-plus function claims because they did not use "step for" language and because "generating" contained an act.
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Wells-Gardner Elecs. Corp. v. C. Ceronix, Inc., No. 10 C 2536, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 14, 2011) (Hart, J.).
Judge Hart construed the term "flange" and granted defendant C. Ceronix summary judgment of noninfringement in this patent case involving flat panel television mounting frames. The Court held that "flange" as used in the claims was interchangeable with "bracket," which C. Ceronix argued should be excluded from the definition of flange. In addition to the intrinsic evidence, the Court looked to dictionary definitions of flange.
C. Ceronix had brackets on the sides of the frame, but the brackets did not directly attach to the sides of the flat panel display as required by the claim. Instead the bracket attached at the back of the display. The doctrine of equivalents did not apply because allowing a flange that attached at the back not the side would vitiate the claim element.
The Court exercised its discretion to dismiss C. Ceronix's claim for declaratory judgment of invalidity.
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Morningware, Inc. v. Hearthware Home Prods., Inc., No. 09 C 4348, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 12, 2011) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted defendant Hearthware's motion for reconsideration holding that the claim term cooking enclosure required no construction. The Court originally construed "cooking enclosure" to mean "an oven housing and a metallic oven pan supported by a base." The Court held that the instruction imported a claim limitation. Furthermore, the doctrine of claim differentiation required broader constructions because other independent claims that further defined the cooking enclosure as having a metallic oven pan as a base were made superfluous by the original construction.
The Court also held that Hearthware's motion should have been brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) which gives the Court authority to reconsider its interlocutory decisions, not Rule 59(e) which only applies once the Court has entered judgment.
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Late Allergen Reduction, LLC v. Dynarex Corp., No. 10 C 129, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 21, 2011) (Bucklo, J.).
Judge Bucklo construed the claims in this patent infringement case involving a method of neutralizing protein allergens found in natural rubber latex. Here are constructions of note:
"The protein allergens" was construed to require that the method degrade all of the protein allergens in the latex, not just one or more protein allergens.
"Non-allergenic to humans" was construed as "the protein allergens contained within the natural rubber latex are degraded such that the natural rubber latex is incapable of producing an allergic reaction in any human . . . ." Plaintiff's proposed construction requiring greatly reduced levels of allergens to "most humans" would render the claims indefinite.
"Non-transmissive" was construed as "an optical structure that reduces the transmission of radiant light to the greatest degree practicable consistent with the intended purpose."
"A protease enzyme and a peptidase enzyme" was construed as requiring two separate enzymes, one being a protease and the other being a peptidase. It could not be a single enzyme of both types.
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Minemyer v. B-Roc Reps., Inc., No. 07 C 1763, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 22, 2011) (Cole, Mag. J.).
Judge Cole denied defendants' summary judgment of noninfringement. The motion was premised upon an effort to amend the construction of "approximately perpendicular" which the parties previously agrees was "approximately ninety degrees" to no more than five degrees away from a ninety-degree angle. Defendants' accused couplers had threads at an eighty degree angle - ten degrees away from ninety degrees. But the parties had already cancelled their claim construction process because they agreed upon all constructions, including that approximately perpendicular meant approximately ninety degrees." Even if the arguments were timely, and not a "back door" attempt to avoid the Court's schedule, defendants' evidence did not support their construction:
The inventor's testimony suggested ten degrees did not meet the "approximate" modifier. But the inventor's testimony is heavily discounted if not disregarded, in claim construction.
The parties experts also opined that ten percent was outside "approximate." But that was evidence for the trier of fact to weight in considering infringement.
The examiner's use of "perpendicular" without the "approximately" modifier was irrelevant because the allowed claim contains the modifier.
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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."
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Viskase Cos., Inc. v. World Pac Int'l AG, No. 09 C 5022, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 18, 2010) (Bucklo, J.).
Judge Bucklo construed the claims in this patent case regarding food curing technologies for use in packing sausages and other processed foods. The following construction were of particular note:
The Court declined to construe "barrier casing" holding that "barrier" did not require construction beyond its ordinary meaning. The parties real dispute was over the term "impermeable" which the Court construed.
The Court construed "impermeable" as "having a low enough permeability or transmission rate to steam and/or gas to prevent a measurable loss of weight, flavor, and taste during customary production, cooking, and storage." This construction required a lower permeability than any known in the industry because that is how the patentee defined impermeable in the specification noting that courts cannot redraft claims to avoid "nonsensical results."
"Plastic Foils" was construed as "a self-supporting film or sheet of plastic." Because the patent contemplated laminating the plastic foil, it has to be self-supporting because only self-supporting foils can be laminated.
The Court held that "woven" in "woven fibers, fabric, knits and fleece" modified only fibers, not fabric, knits or fleece.
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Bone Care Int'l, LLC v. Pentech Pharma., Inc., No. 08 C 1083, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. June 4, 2010) (Dow. J.)
Judge Dow construed the claims in this patent infringement action related to methods for preventing bone mass loss using vitamin D. As an initial matter, the Court held that the person of ordinary skill in the court was someone in the field of kidney disease with either a Ph.D. or an M.D., adopting plaintiffs' construction. Defendants' argued that both a Ph.D. and an M.D. were required, but the parties agreed that the definition did not impact their respective arguments. Of particular interest, the Court construed the following terms:
The Court declined to construe "lowering" or "lowered" because the parties did not contest that the constructions impacted claim scope, and their ordinary meanings were sufficient.
"Serum parathyroid hormone" was construed as "blood concentrations of parathyroid hormone."
"Suffer from" was construed as "having" consistent with its ordinary meaning. The dictionary drew a distinction between suffering from and suffering with, which is associated with pain or discomfort from a condition.
"Hyperparathyroidism" was construed consistent with medical dictionaries as "increased (i.e., above normal) secretion of PTH by the parathyroid gland."
"End stage renal disease" was construed as "a disease wherein the patients' kidneys no longer function at a level necessary to sustain life and thus require chronic dialysis or kidney transplantation."
"Effective Amount" was construed as "an effective amount of 1a-OH-vitamin D2 to lower and maintain lowered blood concentrations of PTH with a lower incidence of hypercalcemia than is associated with the extant conventional Vitamin D3 treatments."
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Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. v. Tech. Research Group, Inc., No. 09 C 3895, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 28, 2010) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo construed the claim terms in this patent case involving methods for tracking Rolling Spot Currency contracts. Here are constructions of note:
The Court discounted the extrinsic evidence and focused on the intrinsic evidence to construe "principal market marker" as "an entity required to provide the following functions: (1) continuously maintain a two-sided bid/offer market of specified size and spread for its designated product(s); (2) maintain a public order book with respect to these assigned products; and (3) give priority to customer order execution over personal trading. As compensation for the fulfillment of these responsibilities, this entity is to receive priority volume benefits."
Because "computer" had a very apparent ordinary meaning, the Court relied upon dictionaries to define "computer" as "a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data."
The preambles of each claim were limiting to the extent they identified a computer and the computer was not identified elsewhere in the claim. Where there was not a computer identified in the body of the claim, the preamble was a necessary aspect of the invention.
"Execute" was defined consistent with its ordinary meaning as "to carry out fully and completely."
The Court refused to define "receive" or "directly receive." But the Court held that doing so would improperly impart a claim limitation from the specification.
"Bid," "offer," "trade," and "order", were all defined based upon their dictionary definitions.
To sustain the validity of the claims, the Court defined "rolling spot" as how plaintiff's Rolling Spot Currency contracts were defined as of the effective filing date.
"Currency futures" were construed based upon financial dictionaries as "contracts in the futures markets that are for delivery in a major currency such as U.S. dollars, British pounds, French francs, German marks, Swiss francs, or Japanese yen."
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