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St. Jude Medical Cardiology Division, Inc. v. Volcano Corporation

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 22, 2014


Jason J. Rawnsley, Esq., RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE; John Allcock, Esq. (argued), DLA PIPER LLP, New York, NY; Stuart E. Pollack, Esq. (argued), DLA PIPER LLP, New York, NY; Nicholas F. Aldrich, Jr., Esq., DLA PIPER LLP, New York, NY; Marc E. Miller, Esq., DLA PIPER LLP, New York, NY. Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

Thomas Lee Halkowski, Esq., FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., Wilmington, DE; Frank E. Scherkenbach, Esq. (argued), FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., Boston, MA; Todd G. Miller, Esq., FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., San Diego, CA; Michael M. Rosen, Esq., FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., San Diego, CA; Ryan P. O'Connor, Esq., FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., San Diego, CA. Attorneys for Defendant.


RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.

Pending before this Court is the issue of claim construction of six disputed terms found in U.S. Patent No. 6, 565, 514 ("the '514 patent")


St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Division, Inc., St. Jude Medical Systems AB, and St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. filed a patent infringement action against Volcano Corporation on April 9, 2012. (D.I. 1). On June 25, 2012, Volcano wrote a letter to the Court explaining that "[n]o significant facts are in dispute, and the matter can be resolved in its entirety by the Court's construction of just two claim limitations." (D.I. 16, p. 1). Based on this representation, the Court granted an expedited briefing and argument schedule for the two terms Volcano identified in the '514 patent. (D.I. 23). The Court construed those terms on May 30, 2013, although that construction did not end the litigation. (D.I. 50). A new scheduling order was entered, setting the briefing and argument schedule for the remaining disputed terms in the '514 patent. (D.I. 60). The Court has considered the parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief (D.I. 133), appendix (D.I. 134), and oral argument on April 2, 2014.


"It is a bedrock principle of patent law that the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en bane) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction.' Instead, the court is free to attach the appropriate weight to appropriate sources in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law.'" SoftView LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL 4758195, at *1 (D. Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324). When construing patent claims, a matter of law, a court considers the literal language of the claim, the patent specification, and the prosecution history. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-80 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en bane), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). Of these sources, "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." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

Furthermore, "the words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning... [which is] the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to [an] ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted). "In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Id. at 1314 (internal citations omitted).

A court may consider extrinsic evidence, which "consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises, " in order to assist the court in understanding the underlying technology, the meaning of terms to one skilled in the art and how the invention works. Id. at 1317-19 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). However, extrinsic evidence is less reliable and less useful in claim construction than the patent and its prosecution history. Id.

Moreover, "[a] claim construction is persuasive, not because it follows a certain rule, but because it defines terms in the context of the whole patent." Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998). It follows that "a claim interpretation that would exclude the inventor's device is rarely the correct interpretation." Osram GmbH v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 505 F.3d 1351, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).


A. The '514 Patent

The purpose of the invention can be summarized as follows:

[A]n object of the invention is to provide improved systems for monitoring physiological variables, in particular for pressure measurements in the coronary vessels, and especially for the reliable determination of Fractional Flow Reserve, FFRmyo;
Another object is to provide methods for calculation of average pressure values and detection of heart beat[s] using pressure signals from the measurements.
The present invention monitors, determines by measuring and calculation physiological variables related to blood pressure, wherein at least two physiological variables, arterial pressure Pa. and distal coronary pressure Pd, [are] detected by and derived from a guidewire-mounted pressure sensor. Myocordial Fractional Flow Reserve (FFRmyo) is determined by calculating a ratio Pd/Pa from said measured physiological variables (Pa, Pd) and a graph is formed and displayed of the data resulting from said calculation. The invention also provides an Interactive [G]raphical User Interface system for controlling the performance of and for displaying, in at least one screen on a display in a monitoring unit, intermediate and final results of said invented method.
One advantage[] of the present invention [is] that the FFRmyo-value has a clear breakpoint of 0.75 between significant and non-significant stenoses. This value is easily and rapidly obtained by intracoronary pressure measurements at maximum vasodilation by use of the invented method and system.
Another advantage is that the Interactive [G]raphical User Interface system provides a user-friendly handling.

'514 patent, 1:60-2:22. Claim 16, which contains several of the disputed terms, is representative and recites a:

System for monitoring, determining by measurement and calculation and graphically displaying physiological variables related to blood pressure, comprising:
a graphical user interface for selection of functions from a menu system;
a sensor element, said sensor element being capable of detecting continuously at least two physiological variables, arterial pressure (Pa) and distal coronary pressure (Pd) and delivering processable signals to a ...

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