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Carefusion 303, Inc v. Sigma International

August 25, 2011

CAREFUSION 303, INC.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SIGMA INTERNATIONAL, DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER CONSTRUING PATENT CLAIMS

This matter came before the Court for a claim construction hearing on June 20, 2011. John Kinton and Richard Mulloy appeared and argued on behalf of CareFusion 303, Inc. ("CareFusion") and Randolph Oppenheimer and Michael Zeliger appeared and argued on behalf of Sigma International ("Sigma"). After a thorough review of the parties' claim construction briefs and all other material submitted in connection with the hearing, the Court issues the following order construing the disputed terms of the patent at issue in this case.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 26, 2010, CareFusion filed the present Complaint against Sigma alleging infringement of United States Patent Number 6,347,553 ("the '553 Patent"). Sigma filed an Answer and Counterclaim for declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity on April 23, 2010. CareFusion filed its Answer to the Counterclaim on May 17, 2010. The '553 Patent is currently undergoing reexamination in the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO").

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).

Here, the only patent at issue is the '553 Patent. The '553 Patent is entitled, "Force Sensor Assembly for an Infusion Pump." CareFusion alleges Sigma infringes claims 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 17, 22 and 23 of the '553 Patent. The Court discusses these claims below.

A. Claim 1

Claim 1 of the '553 Patent provides:

A force sensor assembly for use in peristaltic pumps, comprising: a housing; a load cell at least partially disposed within said housing; a plunger, pivotable about an axis, where said plunger comprises; an upper surface; and an underside surface distal from said upper surface where said underside surface cooperates with said load cell; and a means for reducing said load cell's sensitivity to the positioning of an applied force on said upper surface.

There are three terms and phrases in claim 1 of the '553 Patent that the parties agree require construction. They are: (1) "plunger, pivotable about an axis," (2) "distal," and (3) "a means for reducing said load cell's sensitivity to the positioning of an applied force on said upper surface."

1. "Plunger, pivotable about an axis"

CareFusion asserts this phrase should be construed according to its plain and ordinary meaning, while Sigma argues the phrase should be construed as "the plunger rotates about an axis." The difference in these proposed constructions is negligible. Indeed, Sigma's proposed construction merely substitutes "rotates" for "pivotable" without corresponding support in the intrinsic evidence. Accordingly, the Court finds that one of ordinary skill in the art, after reading the claims and consulting ...


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