The opinion of the court was delivered by: Infante, United States Magistrate Judge.[fn*] [fn*] Pursuant to Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties consented to the exercise of civil jurisdiction over the case by a magistrate judge.
ORDER ADOPTING AND APPROVING REPORT OF SPECIAL MASTER REGARDING
CLAIM CONSTRUCTION OF U.S. PATENT NUMBER 5,633,927
In the present suit, Plaintiff Macrovision Corp. ("Macrovision") has
asserted U.S. Patent No. 5,633,927 ("the `927 patent") against Defendant
Dwight Cavendish Developments, Inc. ("Dwight Cavendish"). The parties did
not agree upon the scope of the patent claims, requiring the court to
interpret the disputed claims. See Markman v. Westview Instrutments,
Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed.Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370,
116 S.Ct. 1384, 134 L.Ed.2d 577 (1996). On December 6, 1999, in
accordance with Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the
court appointed Allen M. Lo as a Special Master to assist in this task.
The parties submitted claim constructions briefs, and Special Master Lo
held a claim construction hearing on February 24, 2000.
Special Master Lo issued his Report on April 17, 2000. On May 1, 2000,
Dwight Cavendish filed a Motion to Enter Report of Special Master, and on
May 4, 2000 Macrovision filed a Motion to Modify Report of Special
Master. The parties stipulated to a consolidated briefing schedule
whereby Dwight Cavendish would oppose Macrovision's Motion to Modify and
there would be one hearing for both motions. In accordance with this
stipulation, a hearing
was held on June 26, 2000 on Dwight Cavendish's Motion to Enter Report of
Special Master and on Macrovision's Motion to Modify Report of Special
Master, and the parties appeared through their respective counsel of
record. Having considered the briefs submitted by the parties, and the
arguments of counsel, and for the foregoing reasons, Dwight Cavendish's
Motion to Enter Report of Special Master is hereby GRANTED and
Macrovision's Motion to Modify Report of Special Master is hereby
Claim construction is a matter of law for the court, which is empowered
and obligated to construe the meaning of the language used in the patent
claim. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed.Cir.
1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370, 116 S.Ct. 1384, 134 L.Ed.2d 577
(1996). In reviewing a special master's conclusions of law, the district
court conducts a de novo review. Swoboda v. Pala Min., Inc., 844 F.2d 654
(9th Cir. 1988); see also Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Intern.
Union, AFL-CIO v. N.L.R.B., 547 F.2d 575, 580 (D.C.Cir. 1976) ("a
master's conclusions of law are entitled to no special deference from the
reviewing court.") Accordingly, the court will conduct a de novo review
of the Special Master's claim construction.
III. LEGAL STANDARD FOR CLAIM CONSTRUCTION
Claim construction is a matter of law for the court, but claim
construction is not an obligatory exercise in redundancy and therefore
does not require the court to repeat or restate every claim term. U.S.
Surgical Corp. v. Ethicon, Inc., 103 F.3d 1554, 1568 (Fed.Cir. 1997).
Rather, the court must interpret only disputed terms. Wang Laboratories,
Inc. v. Mitsubishi Electronics America, Inc., 103 F.3d 1571, 1583
(Fed.Cir. 1997). Resolving the meaning of disputed terms allows the court
to clarify and explain what the patentee covered by the claims. U.S.
Surgical, 103 F.3d at 1568.
In interpreting disputed claim terms, the court should look first to
the intrinsic evidence of record. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc.,
90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed.Cir. 1996.) Intrinsic evidence includes the
language of the claims, the specification, and the file history, if in
evidence. Id. Such intrinsic evidence is the most significant source of
the legally operative meaning of the disputed claim language. Id. In most
situations, analysis of the intrinsic evidence alone will resolve any
ambiguity in a disputed claim term. Id. at 1583.
The words of the claims themselves define the scope of the patented
invention. Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582. Claim construction begins and ends
in all cases with the actual words of the claim. Renishaw PLC v. Marposs
Societa per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1248 (Fed.Cir. 1998). Absent a special
and particular definition created by the inventor, terms in a claim are
to be given their ordinary and accustomed meaning. Id. at 1249. This
holds true for technical terms as well, which are interpreted from the
perspective of persons skilled in the art. See Phillips Petroleum Co. v.
Huntsman Polymers Corp., 157 F.3d 866, 871 (Fed.Cir. 1998). Ordinarily, a
claim term expressed in general descriptive words will not be limited to
a numerical range appearing in the specification or other claims.
Renishaw, 158 F.3d at 1248.
To determine whether disputed terms have been used by the inventor in a
manner other than their ordinary meaning, it is always necessary to
review the specification. Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582. The specification
acts as a dictionary when it expressly defines terms used in the claims
or when it defines terms by implication. Id. A court may not resort to
statements in the specification to construe a claim unless there is a
claim term with which to draw in those statements. Renishaw, 158 F.3d at
The court may also consider the file history of the patent, if it is in
evidence. Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582. The file history is often of
critical significance in determining the meaning of the claims. Id. Any
interpretation that is provided or disavowed in the file history shapes
the claim scope. Renishaw, 158 F.3d at 1249 n. 3.
In addition to intrinsic evidence, a court may rely on extrinsic
evidence to construe claims, but only where the intrinsic evidence alone
does not resolve the ambiguity in a disputed claim term. Vitronics, 90
F.3d at 1583. Extrinsic evidence may not be used to vary or contradict
the claim language. Id. at 1584. A court may, however, examine or consult
extrinsic evidence to ensure that its claim construction based on
intrinsic evidence is not inconsistent with how a person skilled in the
art would understand the claim terms. Pitney Bowes, Inc. v.
Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1308-09 (Fed. Cir. 1999). Extrinsic
evidence refers to evidence that is external to the patent and its file
history, such as expert testimony, inventor testimony, dictionaries, and
technical treatises and articles. Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1584. The court
may freely consult dictionaries and technical treatises at any ...