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Zimmer Surgical, Inc. v. Stryker Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 19, 2018

ZIMMER SURGICAL, INC. and DORNOCH MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION and STRYKER SALES CORPORATION, Defendants. STRYKER CORPORATION and STRYKER SALES CORPORATION, Counterclaim Plaintiffs,
v.
ZIMMER SURGICAL, INC., ZIMMER, INC., and DORNOCH MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC. Counterclaim Defendants.

          Frederick L. Cottrell, III, Christine D. Haynes, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER LLP, Wilmington, DE; J. Michael Jakes (argued), Kathleen Daley (argued), Susan Y. Tull (argued), Benjamin A. Saidman, Scott A. Allen, FINNEGAN, HENDERSON, FARABOW, GARRETT & DUNNER LLP, Washington, DC. Attorneys for Plaintiffs and Counterclaim Defendants.

          Anne Shea Gaza, Samantha G. Wilson, YOUNG CONAWAY STARGATT & TAYLOR, LLP, Wilmington, DE; Robert A. Surrette, Sandra A. Frantzen (argued), Katherine Ramlose (argued), MCANDREWS, HELD & MALLOY, LTD., Chicago, IL. Attorneys for Defendants and Counterclaim Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before me is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. RE44, 920 ("the '920 patent") and 9, 579, 428 ("the '428 patent"). I have considered the parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 217). I held oral argument on May 15, 2018. (D.I. 269 ("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. A WH 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 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

         Zimmer Surgical, Inc. and Dornoch Medical Systems, Inc. assert the '920 patent against Stryker Corporation and Stryker Sales Corporation. (D.I. 1). The '920 patent relates to a "system for collecting, treating, and disposing of waste fluid using a mobile waste fluid collection cart with an associated waste fluid disposal unit." (D.I. 217 at 1 (citing '920 patent, 4:4-6)).

         Stryker asserts the '428 patent against Zimmer Surgical, Inc., Zimmer, Inc., and Dornoch Medical Systems, Inc. (collectively, "Zimmer"). (D.I. 48). The '428 patent relates to a "surgical waste collection system with an intake manifold that has an off-center outlet opening and that interfaces with a waste collection unit that has a receptacle that allows the manifold to be seated in a particular angled orientation, allowing medical waste to flow into a canister using an on board vacuum source." (D.I. 217 at 10).

         The following claims in the '920 patent are representative for purposes of this Markman:

15. A system for handling waste fluid from a patient, comprising:
a) a movable waste fluid collection cart including:
i) a body supported by a plurality of wheels; ii) a flushing portion and a drain portion; and iii) at least two containers supported by the body, each container including a suction port, each container being configured to collect liquid waste from the patient via its respective suction port when a vacuum is applied to the container, at least one of the suction ports being configured to provide at least two different levels of suction, an outlet from each container being operatively connectable to the drain portion and an inlet to each container being operatively connectable to the flushing portion; and
b) a waste fluid disposal unit including:
i) a. first portion coupleable to the flushing portion of the waste fluid collection cart, the first portion being connectable to a water source via a water line to provide water to the waste fluid collection cart when the first portion is coupled to the flushing portion; and
ii) a second portion coupleable to the drain portion of the waste fluid collection cart, the second portion being connectable to a drain via a drain pump, wherein patient's waste fluid in the waste fluid collection cart is pumpable to the drain by the drain pump when the second portion is coupled to the drain portion and to the drain.
17. The system of claim 15, wherein a level of vacuum in one of the at least two containers is controllable independently from a level of vacuum in another of the at least two containers.
29. A system for handling waste fluid from a patient, comprising:
a) a movable waste fluid collection cart including:
i) a body supported by a plurality of wheels;
ii) a flushing portion and a drain portion; and
iii) at least two containers supported by the body, each container including a suction port, each container being configured to collect liquid waste from the patient via its respective suction port when a vacuum is applied to the container, a level of suction at one of the suction ports being independently adjustable of a level of suction at another of the suction ports, outlets from the at least two containers being operatively connectable to the drain portion and an inlet to each container being operatively connectable to the flushing portion; and
b) a waste fluid disposal unit including:
i) & first portion coupleable to the flushing portion of the waste fluid collection cart, the first portion being connectable to a water source via a water line to provide water to the waste fluid collection cart when the first portion is coupled to the flushing portion;
ii) a second portion coupleable to the drain portion of the waste fluid collection cart, the second portion being connectable to a drain via a drain pump, wherein patient's waste fluid in the container is pumpable to the drain by the drain pump when the second portion is coupled to the drain portion and to the drain.
32. The system of claim 29, wherein at least one of the suction ports is configured to provide at least two different levels of suction.

(D.I. 1-1, Exh. A) (disputed terms italicized).

         The following claims in the '428 patent are representative for purposes of this Markman:

1. A medical/surgical waste collection assembly, said assembly including:
a manifold, said manifold including:
a housing with proximal and distal ends, a longitudinal axis that extends between the proximal and distal ends and an outlet opening at the proximal end, the outlet opening being off center from the longitudinal axis of the manifold housing; and
a fitting that extends from the distal end of said manifold housing, said fitting shaped to receive a suction line and being in fluid communication with the outlet opening of said manifold housing; and
a waste collection unit including:
a first canister for holding medical/surgical waste;
a suction pump in fluid communication with said first canister, said suction pump configured to draw a suction on said first canister; and
a first receiver adjacent said first canister, said first receiver shaped to have: a bore dimensioned to receive said manifold housing, the bore having an open distal end into which said manifold housing is inserted and having a. proximal end in fluid communication with said first canister; and an axis that extends through the bore,
wherein:
said manifold housing and said first receiver are collectively configured so that said manifold housing is able to rotate in the bore of said first receiver;
said manifold and said first receiver are formed with complementary alignment features that engage when the manifold is inserted into the bore of said first receiver so as to cause the outlet opening of said manifold housing to be, upon insertion into the bore, in a specific rotational alignment in the bore; and
said first receiver is attached to said first canister so that the axis through the receiver bore is angled from the horizontal and said alignment features of said manifold and said first receiver are arranged so that, when said manifold is initially inserted into the bore of said first receiver, the outlet opening of said manifold housing is in a first rotational position about the axis through the receiver bore and, when said manifold housing is rotated in the bore, the outlet opening is in a second rotational position about the axis through the receiver bore so that the outlet opening is located below the position of the outlet opening when the outlet opening is in the first rotational position.
8. The medical/surgical waste collection assembly of claim 1, further including a valve disposed in said first receiver that opens and closes a fluid communications path from the bore of said first receiver into said first canister.
23. A medical waste collection mobile unit for use with a manifold having an inlet fitting, an outlet opening that is off center relative to a longitudinal axis through the manifold and at least one outwardly extending tab, said system including:
a mobile cart;
a first canister mounted to said cart;
a suction pump mounted to said cart in fluid communication with the first canister for drawing a suction on the first canister;
a first receiver mounted to said cart adjacent said first canister, said first receiver having: a bore, the bore having an open distal end, a. proximal end in fluid communication with said first canister, an axis between the ends and the bore being dimensioned to receive the manifold and allow the manifold to rotate in the bore; a fluid communications path from the receiver bore into said first canister, and at least one slot that extends outwardly from the bore, the slot dimensioned to receive the manifold tab; a groove that extends from a. proximal end of the at least one slot, the groove dimensioned to receive the manifold tab and so that the tab can rotate in the groove wherein, said first receiver is attached to said first canister so that the axis through the receiver bore is angled from the horizontal so that, when the tab of the manifold is initially inserted into the slot of said first receiver, the outlet opening of the manifold is in a first rotational position about the axis through the receiver bore and, when the ...

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