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Perfect Co. v. Adaptics Ltd.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

November 2, 2017

PERFECT COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
ADAPTICS LIMITED, Defendant.

          AMENDED [1] MARKMAN CLAIMS CONSTRUCTION

          RONALD B. LEIGHTON, United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court following a claims construction hearing pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc. 517 U.S. 370 (1996). The parties seek construction of six claims of United States Patent No. 8, 829, 365 (the '365 patent). The Court has reviewed all of the materials presented, and heard expert testimony and argument of counsel.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         Claim construction is a matter of law for the court. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc. 517 U.S. 370 (1996). The claims of the patent establish and limit the patentee's right to exclude by "describing the outer boundaries of the invention." Warner-Jenkinson Co., Inc. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 27 n. 4 (1997). In construing the language of a claim, the court primarily focuses on so-called "intrinsic evidence" which is comprised of the patent itself, including the claims, the specification and, if in evidence, the prosecution history. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Specifically, the court first looks to the words of the claims themselves, both asserted and non-asserted, to define the scope of the patented invention. The ordinary and customary meaning of a term is defined by a person of ordinary skill in the art (PHOSITA) at the time of the invention. Id. The context in which a term is used can be "highly instructive" in resolving the meaning of the term. Id. at 1314. For example, if a claim has the term "steel baffle, " it strongly implies that the term "baffle" does not inherently include objects made of steel. Id. Other claims in a patent may also provide valuable contextual cues for deciphering the meaning of a term. Id. If a limitation is present in a dependent claim, then there is a presumption that the limitation is not present in the parent claim. Mat 1314-15.

         The court then reviews the specification to determine whether the inventor has used any terms in a manner inconsistent with their ordinary meaning. The specification acts as a dictionary when it expressly defines terms used in the claims or when it defines terms by implication[.] Thus, the specification is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term. Id.

         The prosecution history of a patent is the last piece of intrinsic evidence that a court should consider when construing the claims of the patent. Id. at 1317. The prosecution history provides evidence of how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") and the inventor understood the patent. Id. A court, however, should be aware that the prosecution history represents the ongoing negotiation between the PTO and the applicant, rather than the final product. Id. As such, the prosecution history may lack the clarity of the specification and may not be as useful for claim construction purposes. Id. In certain instances, however, the prosecution history may provide guidance of an applicant's intent to specifically limit the scope of a given claim term. Id.

         Extrinsic evidence is the last category of evidence a court may consider when construing patent claims. Id. Such extrinsic evidence includes expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises. Id. On its own, extrinsic evidence is unlikely to be reliable in guiding the court's claim construction. Id. at 1319. Instead, extrinsic evidence should be considered in the context of the intrinsic evidence. Id. A court may also use extrinsic evidence to determine how a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand the claimed invention. Id. It is the Court's duty to resolve fundamental disputes among the parties as to the scope of a claim term, but it is not the Court's duty to construe every claim term, or to repeat or restate every claim term. See U.S. Surgical Corp. v. Ethicon, Inc., 103 F.3d 1554, 1568 (Fed. Cir. 1997); 02 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Beyond Innovation Tech Corp., 521 F.3d 1351, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

Ultimately, the interpretation to be given a term can only be determined and confirmed with a full understanding of what the inventors actually invented and intended to envelop with the claim. The construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent's description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction.

See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

         II. DISPUTED TERMS

         As an initial matter, the Court notes that the arguments made in the plaintiffs opening claims construction brief were made to the USPTO on re-examination of the '365 patent. As Perfect Co. emphasizes, the examiner confirmed all of the claims as issued:

Original claims 5, 8, 10, 14, 16, 18-20, 23-25, 27, 29, are patentable and new claims 30-34 are allowable.
Independent claims 5 and 14 are patentable because the prior art of record did not disclose or fairly teach the following claim limitation; displaying on the display a real-time progress of the first ingredient being added to the scale by displaying a first portion of the first recipe block in a different manner than a second portion of the first recipe block, wherein a ratio of the first portion of the first recipe block displayed to the second portion of the first recipe block displayed is changed in real-time and is proportional to a ratio of the real-time measured amount of the first ingredient compared to the target amount for the first ingredient.

Dkt 128-1, Decision on Reexamination, dated July 5, 2017, page 2 (emphasis in original).

         Perfect Co. correctly argues that this determination is strong support for its claims construction, and for its argument that the claims are not indefinite.

         The parties' primary dispute is over the term "real time" in the '365 patent. The Court's ...


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