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Invensas Corporation v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 16, 2018

INVENSAS CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and SAMSUNG AUSTIN SEMICONDUCTOR, LLC, Defndants.

          Brian E. Faran, Michael J. Faran, Farnan LLP, Wilmington, DE; Matthew J. Moore, Lawrence J. Gotts, Alan M. Billharz, Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, DC; Maximilian A. Grant, Clement J. Naples, Latham & Watkins LLP, New York, NY - attorneys for Plaintiff

          Adam W. Poff, Pilar G. Kraman, Young C0naway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Wilmington, DE; Ryan K. Yagura, Brian M. Berliner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Darin W. Snyder, Luann L. Simmons, Mark Liang, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, San Francisco, CA -attorneys for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKAT, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Invensas Corporation ("Invensas") sued Defendants Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd and Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC (collectively, "Samsung") for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 232, 231 ("the '231 Patent") and 6, 849, 946 ("the '946 Patent").[1] Presently before the Court are the parties' disputes over the meaning of three terms that appear in the two patents.[2] The parties briefed the issues, submitted declarations from experts[3] (D.I. 44-48, D.I. 56, 57), and provided tutorials describing the relevant technology (D.I. 49, 50). The Court heard argument on claim construction on October 10, 2018. (D.I. 64) ("Tr.").

         I. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Claim Construction

         "[T]he ultimate question of the proper construction of the patent [is] a question of law," although subsidiary fact-finding is sometimes necessary. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 837-38 (2015). "[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." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Although "the claims themselves provide substantial guidance as to the meaning of particular claim terms," the context of the surrounding words of the claim also must be considered. Id. at 1314. "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to the ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         The patent specification "is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis . . . [as] 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). It is also possible that "the specification may reveal a special definition given to a claim term by the patentee that differs from the meaning it would otherwise possess. In such cases, the inventor's lexicography governs." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. "Even when the specification describes only a single embodiment, [however, ] the claims of the patent will not be read restrictively unless the patentee has demonstrated a clear intention to limit the claim scope using words or expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction." Hill-Rom Servs., Inc. v. Stryker Corp., 755 F.3d 1367, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Liebel-Flarsheim Co. v. Medrad, Inc., 358 F.3d 898, 906 (Fed. Cir. 2004)).

         In addition to the specification, a court "should also consider the patent's prosecution history, if it is in evidence." Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 980 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). The prosecution history, which is "intrinsic evidence, . . . consists of the complete record of the proceedings before the PTO [Patent and Trademark Office] and includes the prior art cited during the examination of the patent." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. "[T]he prosecution history can often inform the meaning of the claim language by demonstrating how the inventor understood the invention and whether the inventor limited the invention in the course of prosecution, making the claim scope narrower than it would otherwise be." Id.

         In some cases, courts "will need to look beyond the patent's intrinsic evidence and to consult extrinsic evidence in order to understand, for example, the background science or the meaning of a term in the relevant art during the relevant time period." Teva, 135 S.Ct. at 841. Extrinsic evidence "consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises." Markman, 52 F.3d at 980. Expert testimony can be useful "to ensure that the court's understanding of the technical aspects of the patent is consistent with that of a person of skill in the art, or to establish that a particular term in the patent or the prior art has a particular meaning in the pertinent field." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1318. Nonetheless, courts must not lose sight of the fact that "expert reports and testimony [are] generated at the time of and for the purpose of litigation and thus can suffer from bias that is not present in intrinsic evidence." Id. Overall, although extrinsic evidence "may be useful to the court," it is "less reliable" than intrinsic evidence, and its consideration "is unlikely to result in a reliable interpretation of patent claim scope unless considered in the context of the intrinsic evidence." Id. at 1318-19. Where the intrinsic record unambiguously describes the scope of the patented invention, reliance on any extrinsic evidence is improper. See Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1308 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (citing Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1583).

         B. Indefiniteness

         "The primary purpose of the definiteness requirement is to ensure that the claims are written in such a way that they give notice to the public of the extent of the legal protection afforded by the patent, so that interested members of the public, e.g. competitors of the patent owner, can determine whether or not they infringe." All Dental Prodx, LLC v. Advantage Dental Prods., Inc., 309 F.3d 774, 779-80 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (citing Warner-Jenkins on Co. v. Hilton-Davis Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 28-29 (1997)). Put another way, "[a] patent holder should know what he owns, and the public should know what he does not." Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., Ltd., 535 U.S. 722, 731 (2002).

         A patent claim is indefinite if, "viewed in light of the specification and prosecution history, [it fails to] inform those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty." Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120, 2129 (2014). A claim may be indefinite if the patent does not convey with reasonable certainty how to measure a claimed feature. See Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 789 F.3d 1335, 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2015). But "[i]f such an understanding of how to measure the claimed [feature] was within the scope of knowledge possessed by one of ordinary skill in the art, there is no requirement for the specification to identify a particular measurement technique." Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. v. Covidien, Inc., 796 F.3d 1312, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

         Like claim construction, defmiteness is a question of law, but the Court must sometimes render factual findings based on extrinsic evidence to resolve the ultimate issue of defmiteness. See, e.g., Sonix Tech. Co. v. Publications Int'l, Ltd., 844 F.3d 1370, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2017); see also Teva, 135 S.Ct. at 842-43. "Any fact critical to a holding on indefmiteness . . . must be proven by the challenger by clear and convincing evidence." Intel Corp. v. VIA Techs., Inc., 319 F.3d 1357, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2003); see also Tech. Licensing Corp. v. Videotek, Inc., 545 F.3d 1316, 1338 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

         II. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

         A. "substantially planar" / "substantially co-planar"

         Invensas's ...


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