A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: claim-construction

What I imagine claim construction arguments looked like
Immo Wegmann, Unsplash

Last week, Judge Noreika issued an interesting oral order regarding a claim construction dispute that was briefed—haphazardly, apparently—in the parties' summary judgment papers.

She criticized the briefing, ordered the parties to meet-and-confer and file ordinary claim construction briefing, and threatened sanctions if the parties don't try hard enough to reach agreement:

ORAL ORDER − In their summary judgment papers, the parties include arguments that either three or four additional claim terms must be construed by the Court. The parties' arguments are disjointed, do not focus on the intrinsic evidence and do not demonstrate any real understanding of what that other side's construction is. Thus, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, on or before 5:00 PM on …

The purpose of claim construction is to sort out the plain and ordinary meaning of claim terms to a person of ordinary skill in the art. However, where a party advances "plain and ordinary meaning," by itself, as a claim construction position, the other side and the Court may be left wondering what that party believes the meaning to be, and/or whether there is actually dispute about the meaning that requires Court action.

At least one former Judge in this District expressly forbade parties from arguing for "plain and ordinary meaning" alone, as it "effectively leaves claim construction in the hands of the experts rather than the court." But there are, as we have noted, situations where simply arguing for the adoption of the plain language of the claim term can be a viable claim construction position.

Although Judge Noreika does not make any blanket prohibitions in this regard, she has occasionally ordered parties to explain what they mean by "plain and ordinary meaning." For example...

A peloton?
Jonathan Petit, Unsplash

Before § 101 got big in the early-to-mid 2010's, I recall there being a lot more discussion about construing claims—particularly software claims—to be means-plus-function claims, and then trying to get them invalidated under § 112 ¶ 6 for lack of corresponding structure.

Lately that issue seems to be litigated less frequently, but an order from Judge Andrews today shows that it hasn't faded away completely.

He looked at two claim elements:

a [] translator device adapted to translate data between the exercise communication protocol and the computer communication protocol.

and

translator devices are configured to communicatively couple the first and second exercise devices to the means for comparing so as to facilitate communication of data representative …

This remote definitely can't decode compressed video streams by itself.
This remote definitely can't decode compressed video streams by itself. Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash

Prosecution disclaimer can be tough to prove. Practiced prosecution counsel seem to know how to phrase things in such a way that a patent examiner understands them to be different from the claimed invention, but a later court may still find the opposite.

In an opinion today, Judge Andrews reversed a prosecution disclaimer finding by Magistrate Judge Fallon. The patent claims involves a "tethered digital butler" that can perform smartphone-like functions in a lower-cost way by using cheaper hardware that may be "tethered" to a desktop computer, which takes care of the heavy lifting.

Specifically, the claims discuss a "palm held remote," and the parties disputed …

In a short ruling issued in Deere & Co. v. AGCO Corp., 18-827-CFC, Judge Connolly rejected the defendants' motion for additional claim construction after IPR. The defendants had asked the Court to conduct further claim construction proceedings on three groups of terms, to account for allegedly inconsistent positions taken by the plaintiff during IPR proceedings on 8 of the 11 asserted patents. Judge Connolly explained that he entertained the motion for more claim construction "based on Defendants' repeated and emphatic representations that Plaintiff Deere & Company maintained . . . positions on claim construction [during IPR] that were 'diametrically opposed' to and 'fundamentally inconsistent' with positions Deere took during claim construction before me."

Judge Connolly, however, did not agree . . .

Yesterday, visiting Judge Bataillon excluded a patentee's expert opinion where the expert tried to use the doctrine of equivalents to skirt the Court's construction of a term.

The Court had initially rejected a preliminary injunction motion by the patentee, holding that it had failed to show a likelihood of success on infringement based on its proposed claim construction.

The patentee then proposed the same construction during claim construction before the magistrate judge, who issued an R&R rejecting it.

The patentee then objected to the R&R, but the Court adopted the construction in the R&R and again rejected the patentee's proposed construction.

Specifically, the Court held that the claims required two elements that each have a different thickness and composition: …

Judge Stark issued a claim construction ruling in a large multi-district ANDA case last week, touching on interesting questions regarding the nature of intrinsic evidence and the impact of disclaimers on child applications.

The parties to In re Entresto (SacubitriWalsartan) Patent Litigation, C.A. No. 20-2930-LPS presented the Court with just a few issues for resolution.

First, the Court considered whether independent claims of two of the patents-in-suit directed to administration of a "combination" of active ingredients should be limited to administering those ingredients as "two separate components“…

tim-collins-B5ox94ZFGgI-unsplash.jpg
Road Block, Tim Collins, Unsplash

As chronicled in this very publication, for the last year or so, Judge Noreika has consistently declined to construe more than 10 terms at Markman.

An Unwritten Rule

This practice, however, has not been memorialized in Judge Noreika's form scheduling order, standing orders, or preferences and procedures. This leads to the question of whether the limit still holds when Judge Noreika refers claim construction to a magistrate.

Having just received our first data point, the answer appears to be "yes."

Judge Burke Limits Construction to 10 Terms

In March, Judge Noreika referred "all pretrial matters" in Commvault Sys., Inc. v. Rubrik, Inc., C.A. No. 20-524-MN-CJB, D.I. 55 (D. Del Mar. 5, …

We at IPDE have chronicled the Court's efforts to limit the number of terms it construes pretty extensively. Just last month, we discussed Judge Noreika's opinion in Sentient Sensors, LLC v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp., C.A. No. 19-1868-MN (D. Del. May 17, 2021) where she shot down the plaintiff's motion to reconsider one of her claim construction rulings, citing O2 Micro.

This week, there are some further claim construction developments worth talking about—but we'll start first with some interesting history that we overlooked last time around.

A Difficult Claim Construction Journey

Although we didn't discuss it in our previous post, this case had already had a tempestuous claim construction process. The parties had initially submitted 8 disputed …

We've written in the past about the ongoing struggle to reduce disputed claim terms. Judge Connolly's form scheduling order requires parties to meet and confer to try to reduce disputes before the Markman hearing, and Judge Noreika frequently imposes a similar requirement after briefing is complete.

Some parties treat this process as a formality, believing that they can comply with a short, perfunctory phone call and a letter stating that the parties couldn't agree. This is a dangerous approach to claim construction meet-and-confers, and it doesn't comply with the letter (or the spirit) of the judges' orders.

Judge Connolly drove this point home in a recent oral order, issued the day before a Markman hearing:

Having reviewed the claim construction …