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In-Depth Test LLC v. Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 1, 2018

IN-DEPTH TEST LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MAXIM INTEGRATED, PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant. IN-DEPTH TEST LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOGY INC. and SILICONIX INC., Defendants

          Brain E. Farnan, FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE, Jonathan T. Suder (argued), Corby R. Vowell, FRIEDMAN, SUDER & COOKE, Fort Worth, TX Counsel for Plaintiff

          Robert M. Oakes (argued), FISH & RICHARDSON P.C., Wilmington, DE Counsel for Defendant Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.

          James H. S. Levine, PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Wilmington DE, Thomas F. Fitzpatrick (argued), PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Silicon Valley, CA Counsel for Defendants Vishay Intertechnology Inc. and Siliconix Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In this patent infringement action filed by In-Depth Test, LLC ("Plaintiff') against Maxim Integrated Products, Inc., Vishay Intertechnology Inc., and Siliconix Inc. ("Defendants"), I have before me the issue of claim construction of a single term in U.S. Patent No. 6, 792, 373 ("the '373 patent"). I have studied the parties' briefs and joint claim construction chart. D.I. 51, D.I. 54, D.I. 56, D.I. 57, D.I. 58.[1]I held a Markman hearing on October 9, 2018.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The '373 patent claims a method and apparatus for testing semiconductors, including integrated circuits. Semiconductors are typically produced in large batches on a "wafer," a thin slice of semiconductor material usually made of silicon; and they are extensively tested during the manufacturing process for performance and reliability. "Wafer-level" testing is performed before a circuit is cut from the wafer and "packaged" according to the customer's application requirements. So-called "final testing" of an integrated circuit is performed after the circuit is packaged. The nub of the parties' dispute is whether the '373 patent claims final testing apparatus or methods.

         II. 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 lnc., 2013 WL4758195, at *1 (D.Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324). Construing the claims in a patent is a question of law. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-78 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), affd, 517 U.S. 370, 388-90 (1996).

         Unless a patentee acts as his own lexicographer by setting forth a special definition or disavows the full scope of a claim term, the words in a claim are to be given their ordinary and accustomed meaning. Thorner v. Sony Comput. Entm 't Am. LLC, 669 F.3d 1362, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2012). "[T]he ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term 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." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1313. "[T]he person of ordinary skill in the art is deemed to read the claim term not only in the context of the particular claim in which the disputed term appears, but in the context of the entire patent, including the specification." Id. at 1313. "[T]he 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." Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996).[2]

         The court may also consider 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. "Extrinsic evidence is to be used for the court's understanding of the patent, not for the purpose of varying or contradicting the terms of the claims." Markman, 52 F.3d at 981. "The construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent's description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction." Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998).

         III. AGREED-UPON CONSTRUCTIONS

         The parties agree on the constructions of the following terms in the '373 patent: "outlier," "output report," "test data / semiconductor test data," "tester," and "at run time." D.I. 51 at 2, D.I. 54 at 1, D.I. 56 at 5. The Court accepts the parties' agreed-upon constructions for purposes of this litigation.

         IV. CONSTRUCTION OF ...


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