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I-Flow Corp. v. Apex Medical Technologies

July 25, 2008

I-FLOW CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION,, PLAINTIFF,
v.
APEX MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge

AND ALL RELATED COUNTERCLAIMS.

ORDER CONSTRUING PATENT CLAIMS

This matter came before the Court for a claim construction hearing on July 8, 2008. Boris Zelkind appeared and argued on behalf of I-Flow Corporation ("Plaintiff" or "I-Flow"), and Norbert Stahl appeared and argued on behalf of Apex Medical Technologies, Inc. ("Apex") and Mark McGlothlin ("McGlothlin"). After a thorough review of the parties' claim construction briefs and all other material submitted in connection with the hearing, as well as a review of the Court's file, the Court issues the following order construing the disputed terms of the patents at issue in this case.

I. BACKGROUND

There is one patent at issue in this case: United States Patent Number 5,284,481 ("the '481 Patent"). Generally, the '481 Patent describes an infusion device for medical use. The device consists of (1) a support member, (2) a fluid reservoir, (3) a housing unit, (4) an inlet port and (5) an outlet port. On June 29, 2007, Plaintiff filed the present Complaint against Defendant Apex alleging infringement of the '481 Patent. Plaintiff alleges infringement of claims 1, 2, and 15 of the '481 Patent.

Apex filed an Answer and Counterclaim on September 14, 2007. The original Counterclaim sought a declaratory judgment of non-infringement, invalidity, and unenforceability of the '481 Patent. On October 26, 2007, Apex filed a First Amended Answer and Counterclaim in which it alleged three additional claims for unfair competition under federal, state and common law.

On November 27, 2007, Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint alleging additional claims for trade secret misappropriation, breach of confidence, and unfair competition, and naming McGlothlin as a Defendant. Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on January 14, 2008, in which it realleged all of these claims.

Defendants filed a motion to stay this case on January 31, 2008, and a motion to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint on February 5, 2008, both of which the Court denied.

II. DISCUSSION

Claim construction is an issue of law, Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 372 (1996), and it begins "with the words of the claim." Nystrom v. TREX Co., Inc., 424 F.3d 1136, 1142 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (citing Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996)). Generally, those words are "given their ordinary and customary meaning." Id. (citing Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582). This "'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.'" Id. (quoting Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005)). "The person of ordinary skill in the art views the claim term in the light of the entire intrinsic record." Id. Accordingly, the Court must read the claims "'in view of the specification, of which they are a part.'" Id. (quoting Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed. Cir. 1995)). In addition, "'the prosecution history can often inform the meaning of the claim language by demonstrating how the inventor understood the invention and whether the inventor limited the invention in the course of prosecution, making the claim scope narrower than it would otherwise be.'" Id. (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1318).

As stated above, there are three claims at issue in this case, independent claims 1 and 15 and dependent claim 2. The Court addresses the disputed claim terms below.

A. Claim 1

Claim 1 of the '481 Patent provides:

A compact portable apparatus for dispensing a liquid under pressure at a substantially constant flow rate over a period of time comprising: an elongated generally cylindrical support member; elongated elastic sleeve means mounted and sealingly secured at fixed spaced longitudinal positions on said support member for defining a substantially zero non-pressurized volume pressure reservoir for holding a liquid in a pressurized state for dispensing therefrom; housing means comprising collapsible non-stretchable housing means for containing said support member and said pressure reservoir for enabling said pressure reservoir to expand naturally and for confining said reservoir to fill concentrically about said support member; inlet means for introducing a liquid into said elastic pressure reservoir; and outlet means for dispensing liquid from said pressure reservoir to a selected site.

There are eight terms and phrases in claim 1 of the '481 Patent that the parties agree require construction. They are: (1) "elongated," (2) "elongated elastic sleeve means," (3) "secured at fixed spaced longitudinal positions," (4) "defining a substantially zero non-pressurized volume pressure reservoir," (5) "collapsible non-stretchable housing means," (6) ...


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