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Manufacturing Resources International, Inc. v. Civiq Smartscapes, LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 28, 2019

MANUFACTURING RESOURCES INTERNATIONAL, INC., Plaintiff;
v.
CIVIQ SMARTSCAPES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          Arthur G. Connolly III, Ryan P. Newell, and Kyle Evans Gay, CONNOLLY GALLAGHER LLP, Wilmington, DE; Jeffrey S. Standley, James Lee Kwak (argued), and F. Michael Speed, Jr. (argued), STANDLEY LAW GROUP LLP, Dublin, OH, attorneys for Plaintiff.

          John W Shaw (argued), Karen E. Keller, David M. Fry, and Nathan R. Hoeschen, SHAW KELLER LLP, Wilmington, DE; Douglas J. Kline (argued), Srikanth K. Reddy (argued), and Molly R. Grammel, GOODWIN PROCTER LLP, Boston, MA; Naomi L. Birbach, GOODWIN PROCTER LLP, New York, NY; Yuval H. Marcus, Cameron S. Reuber, Matthew L. Kaufman, and Lori L. Cooper, LEASON ELLIS LLP, White Plains, NY, attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment and Daubert Motion (D.I. 207) and Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Daubert Motion. (D.I. 202). The parties have fully briefed the issues. (D.I. 203, 212, 239, 240, 247, 252). I heard helpful oral argument on August 22, 2019. (Hr'g Tr.).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Manufacturing Resources International, Inc. filed suit against Defendants Civiq Holdings, Civiq Smartscapes, Comark Holdings, and Comark on March 14, 2017 alleging infringement of seventeen patents.[1] (D.I. 1 ¶ 144). Defendants counterclaimed. (D.I. 18). Both parties have amended their claims. (D.I. 84, 101). The parties completed fact discovery on November 30, 2018 and expert discovery on April 5, 2019. (D.I. 163). Trial is scheduled to begin on September 9, 2019. (D.I. 26).

         The patent claims remaining in the case are claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8, 854, 595 ("the '595 Patent"), claims 8, 11, and 14-15 of U.S Patent No. 8, 854, 572 ("the '572 Patent"), claims 2 and 6 of U.S. Patent No. 8, 773, 633 ("the '633 patent"), claim 18 of U.S. Patent No. 9, 629, 287 ("the '287 patent"), and claims 1 and 2 of the U.S. Patent No. 9, 173, 325 ("the '325 patent"). (D.I. 212 at 3; D.I. 264).

         Plaintiff has now moved for summary judgment of (1) direct infringement of claim 1 of the '595 patent, claims 2 and 6 of the '633 patent, and claims 1 and 2 of the '325 patent; (2) induced infringement of claims 8, 11, and 14-15 of the '572 patent; (3) no inequitable conduct; and (4) on Defendants' Lanham Act and Delaware Deceptive Trade Practice counterclaims. (D.I. 212 at 2- 3). Defendants have moved for partial summary judgment of (1) noninfringement of the '325 patent; (2) invalidity for lack of written description for the '287 patent claims; and (3) no pre-suit damages for any of the asserted patents. (D.I. 203 at 1).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party has the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuinely disputed material fact relative to the claims in question. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). Material facts are those "that could affect the outcome" of the proceeding, and "a dispute about a material fact is 'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient to permit a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Lamont v. New Jersey, 637 F.3d 177, 181 (3d Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The burden on the moving party may be discharged by pointing out to the district court that there is an absence of evidence supporting the non-moving party's case. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

         The burden then shifts to the non-movant to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986); Williams v. Borough of West Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458, 460-61 (3d Cir. 1989). A non-moving party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must support such an assertion by: "(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations ..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or (B) showing that the materials cited [by the opposing party] do not establish the absence ... of a genuine dispute ... ." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1).

         When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). A dispute is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, Ml U.S. at 247-49. If the non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Infringement of the'325 Patent

         The parties have both moved for summary judgment on infringement of claims 1-2 of the '325 patent. (D.I. 203 at 8; D.I. 212 at 24). The parties agree that there is no dispute of material fact as to how the Accused Link Kiosk operates for the purposes of determining infringement of claims 1 and 2 of the '325 patent. (D.I. 203 at 9; D.I. 212 at 26). However, the parties dispute whether the following claim limitation is met: "a circulating fan assembly positioned to force circulating gas through the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger." (D.I. 212 at 25). The parties' central dispute appears to be the scope of the claim term "circulating fan assembly." (D.I. 203 at 8; D.I. 212 at 25; D.I. 239 at 17). The term "circulating fan assembly" was not identified in the parties' claim construction briefing, and therefore has not yet been construed. (D.I. 94-1; D.I. 124). Thus, I must construe the claim term before the question of infringement can be resolved. 02 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Beyond Innovation Tech. Co., Ltd., 521 F.3d 1351, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2008) ("When the parties raise an actual dispute regarding the proper scope of these claims, the court, not the jury, must resolve that dispute.").

         1. Claim Construction

         "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. AWE 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.'" 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, 415F.3dat 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 (internal quotation marks omitted). 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 and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Claim 1 of the '325 patent reads as follows:

1. An electronic display assembly comprising:
a first and second electronic image assembly where the two image assemblies are positioned back to back;
a first closed gaseous loop encircling the first image assembly;
a second closed gaseous loop encircling the second image assembly;
a heat exchanger placed within the path of both the first and second closed gaseous loops;
a circulating fan assembly positioned to force circulating gas through the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger; and
an open loop fan which forces ambient air through the heat exchanger;
wherein the ambient air is not permitted to mix with the circulating gas.

('325 patent, cl. 1 (disputed term italicized)).

         Plaintiff asserts that the plain and ordinary meaning of the claim term "circulating fan assembly" may read on an apparatus where one or more "circulating fan assemblies]" are required to circulate gas through the two loops and the heat exchanger. (D.I. 212 at 25). Alternatively, Plaintiff argues that the term "assembly" is sufficiently broad to cover subassemblies that are electrically connected and commonly controlled. (Id. at 26). Defendants assert that the "circulating fan assembly" must force the gas through a single unitary pathway that is defined by "the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger." (D.I. 203 at 8-9; D.I. 239 at 18-20).

         First, Plaintiff is incorrect that the combination of a "comprising" claim and the use of the indefinite article "a" or "an" broadens the scope of the term "circulating fan assembly."[2] Thus, the use of "comprising" can not abrogate the requirement that there must be at least one "circulating fan assembly" that is "positioned to force circulating gas through" each of "the first gaseous loop, [the] second gaseous loop, and [the] heat exchanger." See Spectrum Int'l Inc. v. Sterilite Corp., 164 F.3d 1372, 1380 (Fed. Cir. 1998); Outside the Box Innovations, LLC v. Travel Caddt, Inc., 695 F.3d 1285, 1305 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

         Second, Plaintiff asserts that "assembly" is sufficiently broad to encompass subassemblies that are electrically connected and commonly controlled. (D.I. 212 at 26). The specification repeatedly uses the term "assembly" in accordance with its ordinary meaning, "a unit consisting of components that have been fitted together." ('325 patent, col. 3-9); Assembly, Oxford Dictionary Online (August 26, 2019). Thus, the term "circulating fan assembly" should be interpreted broadly to mean "a collection of connected fans that are operable together" and meet the remainder of the claim limitation.

         Defendants assert that the claim term should be read to require the "circulating fan assembly" to be positioned to force gas through a single unitary pathway defined by "the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger." To support this claim construction, Defendants point to the figures in the patent. (Hr'g Tr. at 75:12-76:21). However, the figures are merely exemplary embodiments and should not be interpreted to limit the explicit claim language. The claim language refers to two closed loop paths. ('325 patent, cl. 1; id. at col. 4:56-59; col. 7:32-39). Additionally, claim 6 of the '325 patent claims a singular "closed loop of circulating gas which encircles both the first and second electronic image assemblies" (id., cl. 6); this further indicates that the language of claim 1 requires two individual closed loops, rather than a single unitary path. Thus, the "circulating fan assembly" must circulate gas through the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger, but the claim language does not require that the first and second loops be connected, nor that all of the circulating gas enter all three elements. Defendants' interpretation also improperly narrows the meaning of "circulating fan assembly" to "circulating fan." It is the fan assembly that must be "positioned to force circulating gas through the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger," not each single fan within the assembly. The specification also makes clear that the positioning and orientation of the various loops and fan assemblies are flexible. ('325 patent, col. 3:38-44, col. 5:8-3, 49-54, col. 8:63-9:5). Defendants' interpretation of the claim language would constrain the positioning and orientation of the circulating fan assembly in a way that is contrary to this broad language in the specification.

         Thus, I will construe the claim limitation "circulating fan assembly positioned to force circulating gas through the first gaseous loop, second gaseous loop, and heat exchanger" consistent with the plain and ordinary meaning of the claim language, that is "a collection of connected fans that are operable together, positioned to circulate gas ...


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