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Ansell Healthcare Products LLC v. Reckitt Benckiser LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 16, 2017

Ansell Healthcaee Products LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Reckitt Benckiser LLC, Defendant.

          Colm F. Connolly, Esq., David W. Marston Jr., Esq., Jody C. Barillare, Esq., Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Wilmington, Del.; Thomas B. Kenworthy, Esq. (argued), Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Philadelphia, Pa.; Raymond R. Moser, Esq., Moser Taboada, Shrewsbury, N.J., attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Adam W. Poff, Esq., Pilar G. Kraman, Esq., Young, Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, Wilmington, Del.; Douglas J. Nash, Esq. (argued), John T. Gutkoski, Esq., Barclay Damon, LLP, Syracuse, N.Y., attorneys for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Andrews, U.S. District Judge

         Plaintiff Ansell Healthcare Products LLC sued Defendant Reckitt Benckiser LLC for infringement of U.S. Patents No. 8, 087, 412; No. 8, 464, 719; No. 9, 074, 027; and No. 9, 074, 029. These patents relate to making latex condoms and gloves. The parties submitted a joint claim construction brief (D.I. 124) and I held a Markman hearing on March 1, 2017.

         I. 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 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).

         II. Construction Of Disputed Terms

         The primary dispute in the claim construction brief and at the Markman hearing was whether several of the claim terms are indefinite. As I stated in open court, I am declining to rule that any of the claim terms are indefinite at this point. While claim construction is an appropriate time to rule on some sorts of indefiniteness arguments, I do not think it is for the issues Defendant raises. Defendant is free to renew its indefiniteness arguments later in the case.[1]

         Proposed constructions were offered by at least one party on several terms.[2]My construction of those terms are as follows.

         1. "synthetic polyisoprene particles that are pre-vulcanized"

a. Plaintiffs proposed construction: "Synthetic polyisoprene particles that have had some amount of cross-linking prior to the dipping of a former into the latex emulsion"
b. Defendant's proposed construction: "Particles subjected to a pre-vulcanization process that, among other things, applies a temperature that is in excess of 22 degrees Celsius."
c. Court's construction: "synthetic polyisoprene particles that have had some amount of intraparticle cross-linking prior to the dipping of a former ...

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