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F'Real Foods LLC v. Hamilton Beach Brands

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 29, 2017

F'REAL FOODS, LLC & RICH PRODUCTS CORP., Plaintiffs,
v.
HAMILTON BEACH BRANDS, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER CONSTRUING THE TERMS OF U.S. PATENT NOS. 5.803.377; 7.144.150; 7.520.658; AND 7.520.622. [1]

         After considering the submissions of the parties and hearing oral argument on the matter, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that, as used in the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 5, 803, 377 ("the ".'377 Patent"); 7, 144, 150 ("the '150 Patent"); 7, 520, 658 ("the '658 Patent); and 7, 520, 622 ("the '622 Patent"):

         1. The term "rinse chamber" in the '150 patent is construed to mean "an enclosure in which a rinse apparatus is positioned to provide rinsing."[2]

         2. The term "sufficient mass to retain the vessel within the holder during relative axial movement of the mixing element and vessel from the first position to the second position when liquid is present in the vessel" in the '658 patent is construed to be "the splash shield is heavy enough to create sufficient downward force on the vessel so as to retain the vessel within the holder when the mixing element moves upwardly in the vessel from the first position to the second position when liquid is present."[3]

         3. The term "providing a mixing machine" in the '658 and '662 patents is construed . to mean "making a mixing machine available for use."[4]

         4. The term "while isolating the vessel from the rinsing fluid" in the '662 patent is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.[5]

         5. The term "frozen substance" in the '377 patent is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.[6]

         6. The term "grinding means for... grinding the frozen substance to form a ground substance" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "grinding the frozen substance to form a ground substance." The corresponding structure is: "sharp depressed edge(s) of a rotatable blade having a slim cross-sectional profile."[7]

         7. The term "shaving elements" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "shaving a frozen substance." The corresponding structure is: "sharp depressed edge(s) of a rotatable blade having a slim cross-sectional profile."[8]

         8. The term "aeration means for... causing air to be incorporated into a mixture" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "causing air to be incorporated into a mixture." The corresponding structure is: "curved, wave-like structure(s) on a rotatable blade with a slim cross-sectional profile."[9]

         9. The term "means for . . . directing liquid from above the upper surface of the blade assembly to below the blade assembly" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "directing liquid from above the upper surface of the blade assembly to below the blade assembly." The corresponding structure is: "a rotating blade having three pairs of cutouts at the perimeter of the blade spaced 120° from each other, the cutouts including a trailing edge that is elevated above the rotational plane of the blade to form an inverted ramped surface for the liquid."[10]

         10. The term "blade assembly including shaving elements and aeration elements" in the '377 patent is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.[11]

         11. The term "control means for causing the blade assembly to move between the upper and lower blade positions at least twice" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "causing the blade assembly to move between the upper and lower blade positions at least twice." The corresponding structure is: "a microprocessor programmed to instruct the carriage motor to move the blade assembly between the upper and lower blade positions at least twice."[12]

         12. The term "control means responsive to the output of the cup sensor for generating blade rotation speed and vertical blade positioning control signals which correspond to the size of the cup detected by the cup sensor" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "generating blade rotation speed and vertical blade positioning control signals which correspond to the size of the cup detected by the cup sensor." The corresponding structure is: "a microprocessor programmed to generate control signals for the carriage motor to vertically position the blade assembly and for the blade motor to rotate the blade at predetermined speeds corresponding to the size of the cup detected by the cup sensor."[13]

         13. The term "control means for generating up and down blade movement control signals and blade rotation control signals" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "generating up and down blade movement control signals and blade rotation control signals." The corresponding structure is: "a microprocessor programmed to generate control signals for the carriage motor to move the blade assembly up and down and for the blade motor to rotate the blade."[14]

         14. The term "control means is further for generating blade speed control signals to reduce the rotational speed of the blade assembly when the blade assembly is moved to a first level and to increase the rotational speed of the blade assembly when the blade assembly is moved to a second level" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "generating blade control signals to reduce the rotational speed of the blade assembly when the blade assembly is moved to a first level just below the milkshake surface and to increase the rotational speed of the blade assembly when the blade assembly is moved to a second level just above the milkshake surface." The corresponding structure is: "a microprocessor programmed to generate a control signal to the blade motor as mixing is being completed to reduce the rotational speed of the blade when it is just below the milkshake surface (first level) and the, for 'spin-off, ' to increase the rotational speed of the blade when it is just above the milkshake surface (second level)."[15]

15. The term "control means responsive to activation of the initiation switch and the output of the cup sensor to cause the blade assembly to rotate and to be lowered into a cup when a cup is positioned into the cup support when a cup is detected in the cup support and when a user activates the initiation switch" in the '377 patent is construed as a means-plus-function term. The claimed function is: "generating the blade movement control signals and the blade rotation control signals in response to activation of the initiation switch and the output of the cup sensor to allow the blade assembly to rotate and to be lowered into a cup when a cup is detected in the cup support and when a user activates the initiation switch." The corresponding structure is: "a microprocessor programmed to generate, after receiving appropriate inputs from the initiation switch that the user wants to begin blending and from the cup sensor that a cup is detected in the cup support, control signals to the carriage motor to lower the blade assembly into the cup and to the blade motor to rotate the blade assembly."[16]

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Notes:

[1] All docket citations refer to Civil Action NO. 16-41-GMS. The abbreviation "Tr." refers to the transcript from the Markman Hearing on October 17, 2017, D.I. 78.

[2] The parties' dispute centers on: (1) whether the splash shield is separate from the enclosure; and (2) whether the rinse chamber confines the rinse fluid. Markman Hr'g Tr. 19:18-22. The disputed term should be construed as "an enclosure in which a rinse apparatus is positioned to provide rinsing" because that construction comports with both the description of the ...


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