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REGAL ELECTRONICS, INC. v. PULSE ENGINEERING

September 1, 2004.

Regal Electronics, Inc., Plaintiff(s),
v.
Pulse Engineering, Inc., et al., Defendant(s).



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
I. INTRODUCTION
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.

II. BACKGROUND

  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 connector, comprising:
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.

  III. STANDARDS

  A. Summary Judgment

  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, ...


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