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Varentec, Inc. v. Gridco, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 30, 2017

VARENTEC, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
GRIDCO, INC., Defendant.

          Philip A. Rovner, David E. Moore, Alan R. Silverstein, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Stephen S. Korniczky, Michael Murphy, SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON LLP, San Diego, CA; Bruce G. Chapman, SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Michael W. Scarborough, SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON LLP, San Francisco, CA. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Steven J. Balick, Andrew C. Mayo, ASHBEY & GEDDES, Wilmington, DE; Christopher C. Campbell, Erik B. Milch, Stephen C. Crenshaw, COOLEY LLP, Reston, VA; Jeffrey D. Talbert, PRETI FLAHERTY BELIVEAU & PACHIOS LLP, Portland, ME. Attorneys for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before me is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent No. 9, 014, 867 (the '"867 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 9, 293, 922 (the '"922 patent"), and U.S. Patent No. 9, 104, 184 (the '"184 patent"). I have considered the parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 146). I held oral argument on August 1, 2017. ("Tr.").

         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). '"[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.

         "[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 omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to [an] ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321. "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. 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. BACKGROUND

         The parties agree that the following claims are representative. (D.I. 147, JA26).

         Claim 1 of the '867 Patent

         1. A system comprising:

a distribution power network;
a plurality of loads at an edge of the distribution power network, each of the plurality of loads configured to receive power from the distribution power network; and a plurality of shunt-connected, switch-controlled Volt-Ampere Reactive ("VAR") sources at the edge of the distribution power network, each of the plurality of shunt-connected, switch-controlled VAR sources configured to detect a proximate voltage at the edge of the distribution power network, each of the plurality of shunt-connected, switch-controlled VAR sources comprising a processor and a VAR compensation component, the processor configured to:
enable the corresponding shunt-connected, switch-controlled VAR source to non-continuously monitor the proximate voltage by waiting for a delay and then evaluating the proximate voltage to determine, after the delay, whether to enable the corresponding VAR compensation component based on the proximate voltage; and
adjust network VAR by controlling a switch to enable the corresponding VAR compensation component based on the determination;
wherein the delay extends for a predetermined length of time;
wherein the delay of each of the plurality of shunt-connected, switch-controlled VAR sources is not equal.

         Claim 15 of the '867 Patent

         15. The system of claim 1, wherein the processor is further configured to detect an over voltage condition and disable the switch based on the detected over voltage condition.

         Claim 1 of the '922 Patent

         1. A system comprising:

a distribution power network;
a plurality of loads at an edge of the distribution power network, each load configured to receive power from the distribution power network; and a plurality of shunt-connected, switch-controlled Volt-Ampere Reactive ("VAR") sources, wherein each VAR source is located at or near the edge of the distribution power network, is configured to non-continuously monitor and detect a proximate voltage at or near the edge of the distribution power network, and comprises a processor and a VAR compensation component, the processor configured to enable the VAR source to determine, after a delay, whether to enable the VAR compensation component based on the proximate voltage and adjust network volt-ampere reactive by controlling a switch to enable the VAR compensation component based on the determination;
wherein the delay associated with each VAR source extends for a predetermined length of time that is not equal to the delay associated with any other of the plurality of VAR sources.

         Claim 15 of the '922 Patent

         15. The system of claim 1, wherein the processor is further configured to detect an overvoltage condition and disable the switch based on the detected overvoltage condition.

         Claim 1 of the '184 Patent

         1. A system comprising:

a distribution power network;
a first switch-controlled VAR source coupled to the distribution power network, the first switch-controlled VAR source comprising a processor, a voltage compensation component, and a switch, the first switch-controlled VAR source configured to
obtain a first delay value that is different from another delay value of another switch-controlled VAR source coupled to the distribution power network,
monitor a first proximate voltage of the distribution power network, the first proximate voltage being proximate to the first switch-controlled VAR source,
initiate a first delay duration based on the comparison of the first proximate voltage to at least one set point, the first delay duration being based on the first delay value,
determine, with the processor, after the first delay duration, whether to connect the voltage compensation component based on the monitored voltage, the monitored voltage being possibly changed by the other switch-controlled VAR source, and
control, based on the determination, the switch to connect the voltage compensation component to adjust a network voltage or a network voltage component associated with the distribution power network.

         III. AGREED UPON CONSTRUCTIONS

         The parties have agreed, and I adopt, the following constructions. "Network voltage" in the '184 patent is construed as, "A voltage of all or part of a distribution power network." "Infighting" in the '867 and '922 patents is construed as, "Devices working at cross-purposes by overcompensating and under compensating while reacting to conditions ...


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