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Blackbird Tech LLC v. Lenovo (United States) Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 19, 2017

Blackbird Tech LLC d/b/a Blackbird Technologies, Plaintiff,
Lenovo (United States) Inc., Defendant.

          Stamatios Stamoulis, Richard C. Weinblatt, StaMOULIS & WEINBLATT LLC, Wilmington, Del.; Wendy Verlander, Christopher Freeman, David Gerasimow (argued), BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, Boston, Mass., attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Frederick L. Cottrell, III, RICHARDS, LAYTON, & FINGER, PA, Wilmington, Del.; Fred I. Williams, Michael Simons, VINSON & Elkins LLP, Austin, Tex.; Eric J. Klein, Todd E. Landis (argued), VINSON & ELKINS LLP, Dallas, Tex., attorneys for Defendant.


          Andrews, Judge.

         Plaintiff Blackbird Technologies brings suit against Defendant Lenovo claiming infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 129, 931 by the Lenovo ThinkPad S230u Twist. The '931 Patent, "Multipurpose Computer Display System, " relates to a laptop computer with a dual-axis hinge for the monitor and a front-facing port. The named inventor of the '931 Patent is Nicholas Pappas.

         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. Claim Construction

         The dispute in this claim construction center on a term in claim 1 of the '931 Patent. Claim 1 reads:

1. A computer system comprising:
a) a keyboard unit including a computer keyboard and a keyboard base that includes a front wall and a back wall;
b) a display screen for displaying computer-generated images, said display screen defining first and second side walls, a bottom edge that extends from the first side wall to the second side wall and ...

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