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E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co. v. Unifrax I LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 5, 2017

E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIFRAX I LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Presently before me is the issue of claim construction of the term "adhesive layer capable of activation" in U.S. Patent No. 8, 607, 926 (the '"926 patent"). I have considered the parties' letters. (D.I. 288; D.I. 289; D.I. 291; D.I. 292).

         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.'" 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 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. 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 omitted).

         II. "capable of activation at a temperature of from 75 to 200 degrees C." (Claim 1 of the '976 Patent)

         a. Plaintiff sproposed construction: "Capable of means "the ability to so perform." "Activation" means "bonding." In the alternative, "capable of activation" means "the ability to bond." Furthermore, the term "at a temperature of from 75 to 200 degrees C" needs no construction because it has its plain and ordinary meaning.

         b. Defendant's proposed construction: An adhesive layer . .. where the adhesive becomes able to bond only after it is heated to a temperature in the range of 75 to 200 Celsius (167 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit).

         c. Court's construction: The ability to bond at a temperature of from 75 to 200 degrees C.

         Claim 1 of the'926 patent provides:

1. A multilayer laminate for use as a flame barrier layer for an aircraft comprising in order (i) a polymeric film layer capable of withstanding a temperature of at least 200 C for at least 10 min,
(ii) an adhesive layer having an areal weight of from 2 to 40 gsm capable of activation at a temperature of from 75 to 200 degrees C, and
(iii) an inorganic refractory layer; wherein the inorganic refractory layer of (iii) comprises platelets in an amount of 100% by weight with a dry areal weight of 15 to 50 gsm and a residual moisture ...

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