The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES WARE, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT BEL FUSE
INC.'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT
This is a patent infringement suit brought by Regal
Electronics, Inc. ("Regal") against Bel Fuse, Inc. ("Bel Fuse")
and others. Regal claims that Bel Fuse's MagJack Series of
Modular Connectors ("MagJack Connectors") infringe U.S. Patent
No. 6,171,152 ("'152 Patent"), which Regal owns. Presently before
this Court is Bel Fuse's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment of
Non-Infringement. This Court held a hearing on August 30, 2004.
Based upon all papers filed to date and the comments of counsel,
this Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Bel Fuse's Motion
for Partial Summary Judgment of Non-Infringement.
The technologies at issue in this case are RJ-45 modular
connectors used to transmit data over local area networks
("LANs"). Physically, these connectors resemble the
click-together connectors used to set up telephones. One difference is that RJ-45 modular
connectors are wider, in part, because they contain eight
adjoining wires whereas telephone connectors contain less
adjoining wires. Typically, RJ-45 connectors are mounted near the
outer edge of a computer's motherboard so that they can receive
matching, external RJ-45 plugs.
The '152 Patent contains twelve claims: two independent claims
and ten dependent claims. Claims 1 and 6, the two independent
claims, both claim, inter alia, an RJ-45 style modular
a contact spring assembly of a plurality of wires in
separate circuits that pass forward through said open
back end into the back of said open front end of the
housing, wherein the contact spring assembly includes
a plastic block that supports the plurality of wires
by a right angle turn and is vertically oriented
with respect to the plurality of wires, and wherein
the plastic block inserts and locks into said open
back end of the housing . . .
'152 Patent, Col. 6, ll. 32-40, Col. 7, ll. 15-23 (emphasis
added). The emphasized language is at issue here. Bel Fuse argues
that its MagJack Connectors do not include "a plastic block that
supports the plurality of wires by a right angle turn." Thus, Bel
Fuse argues, it is entitled to a judgment of noninfringement as a
matter of law.
On May 12, 2004, this Court issued its Order Following Claims
Construction Hearing. (Order Following Claims Construction
Hearing ("Claims Construction Order"), Docket No. 90.) In it,
this Court construed the language at issue. This Court found that
the language means: a "plastic block that holds the plurality of
wires by a ninety degree change in direction of the wires."
(Claims Construction Order 19.) For the reasons stated below,
this Court finds that Bel Fuse's MagJack Connectors do not fall
within the literal scope of this meaning. Accordingly, it grants
Bel Fuse partial summary judgment of non-infringement with
respect to literal infringement.
Summary judgment is proper when there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. FED R. CIV. P. 56(c). The purpose of summary
judgment "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported
claims or defenses." Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).
1. No Genuine Issue of Material Fact
The moving party always "bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of `the pleadings, depositions, answer
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. If the moving
party meets this burden, the burden then shifts to the non-moving
party to "designate `specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324. The non-moving party
cannot defeat the moving party's properly supported motion for
summary judgment simply by alleging some factual dispute between
the parties. To preclude the entry of summary judgment, the
non-moving party must bring forth material facts, i.e., "facts
that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law. . . . Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary
will not be counted." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The opposing party "must do more than simply
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
2. Judgment as a Matter of Law
When a movant moves for summary judgment on a matter on which
her opponent bears the burden of persuasion at trial, the movant
may carry its burden by negating an essential element of her
opponent's claim or by showing that her opponent does not have
enough evidence to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at
trial. Adickes v. S.H. Dress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-60
(1970); Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. It is the court's
responsibility "to determine whether the . . . facts . . . are
such that a rational or reasonable jury might return a verdict in
its favor based on that evidence." T.W. Elec. Serv. v. Pac.
Elec. Contractors, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1997). "Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact
to find for the non-moving party, there is no `genuine issue for
trial.'" Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587. In conducting its
analysis, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc.,
501 U.S. 496, 520 (1991) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). B. Patent Infringement
Patent infringement analysis involves two steps. First, the
claims must be interpreted to determine their meaning and scope.
Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.2d 967, 976 (Fed.
Cir. 1995) (en banc). Second, the accused product must be
compared to the properly construed claims. Id. If the accused
product contains every element of a patent claim, or its
substantial equivalent, there is infringement. Lemelson v.
U.S., 752 F.2d 1538, 1551 (Fed. Cir. 1985). Whether a product
infringes the properly construed claim of a patent, literally or
under the doctrine of equivalents, is a question of fact. Tanabe
Seiyaku Co. v. United States Int'l Trade Comm'n, 109 F.3d 726,
731 (Fed. Cir. 1997). Thus, in order to grant summary judgment of
non-infringement, the court must conclude, ...