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Blackbird Tech LLC v. Lululemon Athletica, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 10, 2017

BLACKBIRD TECH, LLC d/b/a BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, Plaintiff,
v.
LULULEMON ATHLETICA, INC., Defendant.

          Stamatios Stamoulis, Esq., STAMOULIS & WEINBLATT LLC, Wilmington, DE; Richard C. Weinblatt, Esq., STAMOULIS & WEINBLATT LLC, Wilmington, DE; Wendy Verlander, Esq., BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, Boston, MA; Christopher Freeman, Esq. (argued), BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, Boston, MA. Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Denise S. Kraft, Esq., DLA PIPER LLP (US), Wilmington, DE; Brian A. Biggs, Esq., DLA PIPER LLP (US), Wilmington, DE; John M. Guaragna, Esq., DLA PIPER LLP (US), Austin, TX; Aaron G. Fountain, Esq. (argued), DLA PIPER LLP (US), Austin, TX. Attorneys for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of a single term in U.S. Patent No. 7, 867, 058 ("the '058 patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 41). The Court heard oral argument on March 8, 2017.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant on October 14, 2015, alleging infringement of the '058 patent. (D.I. 1). The '058 patent claims a sports bra with an integrated storage pouch formed between plies of material that are laminated together. ('058 patent, claim 1).

         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.'" SoftView LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL4758195, 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 TevaPharm. 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

         The '058 patent is directed to a sports bra with an integrated pocket. The only disputed term appears ...


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