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RainDance Technologies Inc. v. 10X Genomics Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 26, 2017

RAINDANCE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., and THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Plaintiffs,
v.
10X GENOMICS, INC. Defendant.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld, Esq., MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Karen Jacobs, Esq., MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Edward R. Reines, Esq. (argued), WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES LLP, Redwood Shores, CA; Derek C. Walter, Esq. (argued), WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES LLP, Redwood Shores, CA. Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Steven J. Balick, Esq., ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE; Tiffany Geyer Lydon, Esq., ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE; Andrew C. Mayo, Esq., ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE; David I. Gindler, Esq. (argued), IRELL & MANELLA LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Andrei Iancu, Esq., IRELL & MANELLA LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Lauren Nicole Drake (argued), Esq., IRELL & MANELLA LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Elizabeth Chenyi Tuan, Esq., IRELL & MANELLA LLP, Los Angeles, CA. Attorneys for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 129, 091 ("the '091 patent"), 8, 822, 148 ("the '148 patent"), 8, 329, 407 ("the '407 patent"), 8, 304, 193 ("the '193 patent"), 8, 658, 430 ("the '430 patent"), and 8, 889, 083 ("the '083 patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (Civ. Act. No. 15-152-RGA, D.I. 93). The Court heard oral argument on December 16, 2016. (D.I. 105) (Hr'g Tr.).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed this action on February 12, 2015, alleging infringement of six patents on behalf of both Plaintiffs. (D.I.I). Plaintiffs refer to these patents as the Ismagilov patents. On April 23, 2015, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint asserting an additional patent, the '430 patent, on behalf of Plaintiff RainDance only. (D.I. 12). On March 25, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint in which they asserted only five of the Ismagilov patents, leaving six patents currently in suit as listed above. (D.I. 32).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "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 banc) (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.'" Soft View LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL 4758195, at *1 (D. Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324) (alteration in original). When construing patent claims, 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 banc), 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 quotation marks omitted).

         "[T]he 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." Id. at 1312-13 (citations and internal 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.

         When a court relies solely upon the intrinsic evidence-the patent claims, the specification, and the prosecution history-the court's construction is a determination of law. See Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015). The court may also make factual findings based upon consideration of extrinsic evidence, which "consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317-19 (internal quotation marks omitted). Extrinsic evidence may assist the court in understanding the underlying technology, the meaning of terms to one skilled in the art, and how the invention works. Id. Extrinsic evidence, however, is less reliable and less useful in claim construction than the patent and its prosecution history. Id.

         "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) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

         A. The Patents-In-Suit

         The '091 patent is directed to a device and method for pressure-driven plug transport and reaction. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

1. A method of conducting a reaction within at least one plug comprising the steps of:
introducing a carrier-fluid into a first microchannel of a device; simultaneously introducing at least two streams of plug-fluids into a first inlet in fluid communication with the first microchannel so that at least one plug forms in the carrier-fluid after the streams contact the carrier-fluid; wherein:
a first plug-fluid comprises a first reagent;
a second plug-fluid comprises a second reagent,
each plug-fluid is immiscible with the carrier-fluid; and
each plug comprises both the first and second plug-fluids so that the reaction of the reagents substantially occurs in the plug;
each plug is substantially surrounded by carrier.

('091 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '193 patent is directed to a method for conducting an autocatalytic reaction in plugs in a microfiuidic system. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

1. A method for conducting an autocatalytic reaction in plugs in a microfiuidic system, comprising the steps of:
providing the microfiuidic system comprising at least two channels having at least one junction;
flowing an aqueous fluid containing at least one substrate molecule and reagents for conducting an autocatalytic reaction through a first channel of the at least two channels;
flowing an oil through the second channel of the at least two channels; forming at least one plug of the aqueous fluid containing the at least one substrate molecule and reagents by partitioning the aqueous fluid with the flowing oil at the junction of the at least two channels, the plug being substantially surrounded by an oil flowing through the channel, wherein the at least one plug comprises at least one substrate molecule and reagents for conducting an autocatalytic reaction with the at least one substrate molecule; and
providing conditions suitable for the autocatalytic reaction in the at least one plug such that the at least one substrate molecule is amplified.

('193 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '407 patent is directed to a method for conducting reactions involving biological molecules in plugs in a microfiuidic system. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

1. A method for conducting a reaction in plugs in a microfiuidic system, comprising the steps of:
providing the microfiuidic system comprising at least two channels having at least one junction;
continuously flowing an aqueous fluid containing at least one biological molecule and at least one reagent for conducting the reaction between the biological molecule and the at least one reagent through a first channel of the at least two channels;
continuously flowing a carrier fluid immiscible with the aqueous fluid through the second channel of the at least two channels;
forming at least one plug of the aqueous fluid containing the at least one biological molecule and the at least one reagent by partitioning the aqueous fluid with the flowing immiscible carrier fluid at the junction of the at least two channels, the plug being substantially surrounded by the immiscible carrier fluid flowing through the channel, wherein the at least one plug comprises at least one biological molecule and the at least one reagent for conducting the reaction with the at least one biological molecule; and
providing conditions suitable for the reaction in the at least one plug involving the at least one biological molecule and the at least one reagent to form a reaction product.

('407 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '148 patent is directed to a method of performing PCR reactions in continuously flowing microfiuidic plugs. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

1. A method comprising the steps of:
providing a microfiuidic system comprising one or more channels;
providing within the one or more channels a continuously flowing carrier fluid comprising an oil and a continuously flowing aqueous fluid comprising target DNA or RNA molecules and at least one other molecule in the fluid that can react with the target DNA or RNA molecules under conditions in which the target DNA or ...

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