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MACROVISION CORP. v. DWIGHT CAVENDISH DEVELOPMENTS

June 29, 2000

MACROVISION CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
V.
DWIGHT CAVENDISH DEVELOPMENTS LTD., DEFENDANT.



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

I. INTRODUCTION

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 DENIED.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

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 1248.

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 ...


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