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Sensor Electronic Technology, Inc. v. Bolb, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

September 24, 2019

SENSOR ELECTRONIC TECHNOLOGY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
BOLB, INC. and QUANTUM EGG, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER CONSTRUING CLAIM TERMS OF U.S. PATENT NOS. 9, 801, 965; 9, 966, 496; 8, 633, 468; 9, 660, 133; AND 9, 042, 420

          Lucy H. Koh, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Sensor Electronic Technology, Inc. brings this action for patent infringement against Defendants Bolb, Inc. and Quantum Egg, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”). The parties seek construction of ten claim terms in the following five patents that Plaintiff accuses Defendants of infringing: (1) U.S. Patent Nos. 9, 801, 965 (“the ’965 Patent”); (2) 9, 966, 496 (“the ’496 Patent”); (3) 8, 633, 468 (“the ’468 Patent”); (4) 9, 660, 133 (“the ’133 Patent”); and (5) 9, 042, 420 (“the ’420 Patent”) (collectively, the “claim construction Patents”). Of note, Plaintiff also accuses Defendants of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8, 552, 562 (“the ’562 Patent”). However, the parties do not seek claim construction for the ’562 Patent.

         Having considered the parties’ submissions, the relevant law, the record in this case, and the parties’ arguments at the July 25, 2019 claim construction hearing, the Court construes the claim terms in the ’965 Patent, the ’496 Patent, the ’468 Patent, the ’133 Patent, and the ’420 Patent as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Background

         The ’965 Patent is titled “Ultraviolet Disinfection Case.” It was filed on April 14, 2015, and issued on October 31, 2017.

         The ’496 Patent is titled “Light Emitting Heterostructure with Partially Relaxed Semiconductor Layer.” It was filed on April 12, 2016, and issued on May 8, 2018.

         The ’468 Patent is titled ‘Light Emitting Device with Dislocation Bending Structure.” It was filed on February 10, 2012, and issued on January 21, 2014.

         The ’133 Patent is titled “Group III Nitride Heterostructure for Optoelectronic Device.” It was filed on September 23, 2014, and issued on May 23, 2017.

         The ’420 Patent is titled “Device with Transparent and Higher Conductive Regions in Lateral Cross Section of Semiconductor Layer.” It was filed on November 3, 2014, and issued on May 26, 2015.

         The Court’s overview of each patent immediately precedes the analyses of that patent’s claim terms in the Discussion section infra.

         B. Procedural History

         On August 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendants infringed Plaintiffs patents. ECF No. 1. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that Defendants infringed the ’562 Patent as well as the five claim construction Patents: the ’965, ’496, ’468, ’133, and ’420 Patents. Id. at ¶¶ 18-62. On October 30, 2018, Defendants Bolb, Inc. and Quantum Egg, Inc. separately answered Plaintiffs complaint. ECF Nos. 26-27.

         On March 29, 2019, the parties filed a joint claim construction statement. ECF No. 55. On May 14, 2019, Plaintiff filed an opening claim construction brief. ECF No. 58 (“Opening Br.”). On May 28, 2019, Defendants jointly filed a responsive claim construction brief. ECF No. 60 (“Resp. Br.”). On June 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply claim construction brief. ECF No. 63 (“Reply”). The Court held a claim construction hearing on July 25, 2019. ECF No. 66.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Claim Construction

         The Court construes patent claims as a matter of law based on the relevant intrinsic and extrinsic evidence. See Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp., 744 F.3d 1272 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (en banc); Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc). “Ultimately, the interpretation to be given a term can only be determined and confirmed with a full understanding of what the inventors actually invented and intended to envelop with the claim.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Accordingly, a claim should be construed in a manner that “stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent’s description of the invention.” Id.

         In construing claim terms, a court looks first to the claims themselves, for “[i]t is a ‘bedrock principle’ of patent law that ‘the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude.’” Id. at 1312 (quoting Innova/Pure Water, Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1115 (Fed. Cir. 2004)). Generally, the words of a claim should be given their “ordinary and customary meaning, ” which is “the meaning that the term[s] would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention.” Id. at 1312-13. In some instances, the ordinary meaning to a person of skill in the art is clear, and claim construction may involve “little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words.” Id. at 1314.

         In many cases, however, the meaning of a term to a person skilled in the art will not be readily apparent, and a court must look to other sources to determine the term’s meaning. See Id . Under these circumstances, a court should consider the context in which the term is used in an asserted claim or in related claims and bear in mind that “the person of ordinary skill in the art is deemed to read the claim term not only in the context of the particular claim in which the disputed term appears, but in the context of the entire patent, including the specification.” Id. at 1313. The specification “‘is always highly relevant’” and “‘[u]sually . . . dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term.’” Id. at 1315 (quoting Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996)). Indeed, “the only meaning that matters in claim construction is the meaning in the context of the patent.” Trs. of Columbia Univ. v. Symantec Corp., 811 F.3d 1359, 1363 (Fed. Cir. 2016). Where the specification reveals that the patentee has given a special definition to a claim term that differs from the meaning it would ordinarily possess, “the inventor’s lexicography governs.” Id. at 1316. Likewise, where the specification reveals an intentional disclaimer or disavowal of claim scope by the inventor, the inventor’s intention as revealed through the specification is dispositive. Id.

         In addition to the specification, a court may also consider the patent’s prosecution history, which consists of the complete record of proceedings before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) and includes the cited prior art references. 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. at 1317.

         A court is also authorized to consider extrinsic evidence in construing claims, such as “expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises.” Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 980 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff’d, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). Expert testimony may be particularly useful in “[providing] background on the technology at issue, . . . explain[ing] how an invention works, . . . ensur[ing] that the court’s understanding of the technical aspects of the patent is consistent with that of a person of skill in the art, or . . . establish[ing] that a particular term in the patent or the prior art has a particular meaning in the pertinent field.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1318. Although a court may consider evidence extrinsic to the patent and prosecution history, such evidence is considered “less significant than the intrinsic record” and “less reliable than the patent and its prosecution history in determining how to read claim terms.” Id. at 1317-18 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Thus, while extrinsic evidence may be useful in claim construction, ultimately “it is unlikely to result in a reliable interpretation of patent claim scope unless considered in the context of the intrinsic evidence.” Id. at 1319. Any expert testimony “that is clearly at odds with the claim construction mandated by the claims themselves, the written description, and the prosecution history” will be significantly discounted. Id. at 1318 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Finally, while the specification may describe a preferred embodiment, the claims are not necessarily limited only to that embodiment. Id. at 1323; see also Prima Tek II, L.L.C. v. Polypap, S.A.R.L., 318 F.3d 1143, 1151 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (“The general rule, of course, is that claims of a patent are not limited to the preferred embodiment, unless by their own language.”).

         B. Indefiniteness

         Under 35 U.S.C. § 112(b), [1] a patent must “conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as [the] invention.” 35 U.S.C. § 112(b) includes what is commonly called the “definiteness” requirement. Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 572 U.S. 898, 902 (2014). In Nautilus, the United States Supreme Court held that “a patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the specification delineating the patent, and the prosecution history, fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” Id. at 901. As the Court observed, § 112(b) “entails a ‘delicate balance.’” Id. at 909 (quoting Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722, 731 (2002)). “On the one hand, the definiteness requirement must take into account the inherent limitations of language.” Id. (citing Festo, 535 U.S. at 731). “At the same time, a patent must be precise enough to afford clear notice of what is claimed, thereby ‘appris[ing] the public of what is still open to them.’” Id. (quoting Markman, 517 U.S. at 373). Thus, “the certainty which the law requires in patents is not greater than is reasonable, having regard to their subject-matter.” Id. at 910 (quoting Minerals Separation v. Hyde, 242 U.S. 261, 270 (1916)).

         The Federal Circuit applied the Nautilus standard in Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc., 766 F.3d 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2014). The case involved two patents which covered an “attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device.” Id. at 1366. In one embodiment, the patents involved placing advertising on websites in areas surrounding the principal content of the webpage, for example in the margins of an article. Several of the asserted claims included a limitation that the advertisements (“content data”) would be displayed “in an unobtrusive manner that does not distract a user of the display device.” Id. at 1368. The district court found that the terms “in an unobtrusive manner” and “does not distract the user” were indefinite, and the Federal Circuit affirmed. Id. at 1368-69. The Federal Circuit found that the “‘unobtrusive manner’ phrase is highly subjective and, on its face, provides little guidance to one of skill in the art” and “offers no objective indication of the manner in which content images are to be displayed to the user.” Id. at 1371. Accordingly, the Court looked to the written description for guidance. The Court concluded that the specification lacked adequate guidance to give the phrase a “reasonably clear and exclusive definition, leaving the facially subjective claim language without an objective boundary.” Id. at 1373. Accordingly, the claims containing the “unobtrusive manner” phrase were indefinite.

         In applying the Nautilus standard, the Federal Circuit has cautioned that “the dispositive question in an indefiniteness inquiry is whether the ‘claims, ’ not particular claim terms” fail the Nautilus test. Cox Commc’ns, Inc. v. Sprint Commc’n Co. LP, 838 F.3d 1224, 1231 (Fed. Cir. 2016). For that reason, a claim term that “does not discernably alter the scope of the claims” may fail to serve as a source of indefiniteness. Id. For example, in Cox Communications, the Federal Circuit determined that the term “processing system” did not render the method claims at issue indefinite because “the point of novelty resides with the steps of these methods, not with the machine that performs them.” Id. at 1229. Thus, the court reasoned, “[i]f ‘processing system’ does not discernably alter the scope of the claims, it is difficult to see how this term would prevent the claims . . . from serving their notice function under [§ 112(b)].” Id.

         The Court therefore reviews the claims, specification, and prosecution history to determine whether the claims “inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” Nautilus, 572 U.S. at 901. Indefiniteness renders a claim invalid, and must be shown by clear and convincing evidence. See Halliburton Energy Servs. v. M-I LLC, 514 F.3d 1244, 1249 (Fed. Cir. 2008); cf. Nautilus, 572 U.S. at 912 n.10.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Below, the Court discusses the following patents in the following order: the ’965 Patent; the ’496 Patent; the ’468 Patent; the ’133 Patent; and the ’420 Patent.

         A. The ’965 Patent

         1. Overview of the ’965 Patent

         The ’965 Patent generally relates to “disinfecting flowable products using ultraviolet radiation.” ’965 Patent at 3:44-45. As defined by the Patent, “flowable products” include “liquids, suspensions, creams, colloids, emulsions, powders, and/or the like.” Id. at 3:45-47. Furthermore, the specification states that the definition of “flowable products” also includes “accessories or ancillary products used in conjunction” with the “flowable products” disclosed in the previous sentence. Id. at 3:48-50. Such “accessories” or “ancillary products” include “containers (e.g., cases), covers (e.g., caps), brushes, applicators, and/or the like.” Id. at 3:50-52.

(Image Omitted)

         Fig. 2B of the ’965 Patent exemplifies the disclosed invention. Fig. 2B shows an example of a container (item 40) that can “store a flowable product . . . for which disinfection is desired.” Id. at 6:57-59. The container (item 40) comprises two compartments, the first of which is item 24, which can store a larger portion of a flowable product than the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 6:61-65. A pumping device (item 30) can be engaged to transfer flowable product from the larger first compartment (item 24) into the smaller second compartment (item 26). Id. The second compartment (item 26) can have a cover (item 27) that would allow ultraviolet radiation to pass through the cover (item 27) and into the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 7:1-2, 28-32. The cover (item 27) to the second compartment (item 26) can also be porous so that flowable product can be extracted from the second compartment (item 26), such as by applying pressure to the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 7:11-14.

         A cap (item 2) can be used to enclose the volume of the container (item 40) and be attached to the container (item 40) using, for instance, a screw thread. Id. at Abstract, 7:22-23, 2:21-25 (disclosing a “case configured to enclose a volume corresponding to a flowable product, wherein the flowable product can be accessed when the case is open” and “a cover configured to selectively close and open the case”). Ultraviolet radiation sources (item 4) can be located onto the cap (item 2) such that when the cap (item 2) is securely attached to the container (item 40), the ultraviolet radiation sources (item 4) are positioned such that the ultraviolet radiation is directed at the ultraviolet transparent cover (item 27) to the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 7:23-32. As a result, ultraviolet radiation would pass through the cover (item 27) into the second compartment (item 26), and would reach any flowable product present in the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 7:28-32. Therefore, the ultraviolet radiation source (item 4) would disinfect the flowable product in the second compartment (item 26) and the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 32-35.

         The parties request construction of two terms: (1) “cover” (found in claim 1), and (2) “second compartment defines the volume” (found in claim 2). Below, the Court addresses each claim term in turn.

         2. “cover”

Plaintiff’s Proposed Construction

Defendants’ Proposed Construction

Plain and ordinary meaning

“a lid or cap that seals the case when closed or attached”

         The term “cover” appears in claim 1 of the ’965 Patent. Claim 1 of the ’965 Patent recites:

         1. An apparatus comprising:

an ultraviolet radiation containing case configured to enclose a volume corresponding to a flowable liquid product, wherein the flowable liquid product can be accessed when the case is open;
a cover configured to selectively close and open the case;
at least one ultraviolet radiation source mounted on at least one of: the case or the cover, the at least one ultraviolet radiation source comprising an ultraviolet light emitting diode configured to generate ultraviolet radiation for disinfecting the volume corresponding to the flowable liquid product; and
a sensor configured to cause the at least one ultraviolet radiation source to turn off when the volume is not closed.

’965 Patent at Cl. 1 (emphasis added).

         Plaintiff argues that the claim term “cover” should be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Opening Br. at 4. Defendants argue that “cover” should mean “a lid or cap that seals the case when closed or attached.” Resp. Br. at 2. For the reasons discussed below, the Court mostly adopts Defendants’ proposed construction, though the Court’s construction omits any mention of a “lid.”

         The Court is well within its discretion to eschew the litigants’ proposed constructions. The Federal Circuit has held that the “duty of a trial judge is to determine the meaning of the claims at issue, and to instruct the jury accordingly. In the exercise of that duty, the trial judge has an independent obligation to determine the meaning of the claims, notwithstanding the views asserted by the adversary parties.” Exxon Chemical Patents, Inc. v. Lubrizol Corp., 64 F.3d 1553, 1555 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (internal citation omitted) (emphasis added); see also Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corp., 865 F.3d 1372, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (holding that courts may “adopt a definition not proposed by either party that best fits with the claim language and specification”). For instance, the Glaxo Grp. LTD v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. court stated that the “Court will not adopt [the defendant’s] proposed construction. However, the Court will also not adopt [the patentee’s] proposed construction.” 2009 WL 1220544, at *2 (D. Del. Apr. 30, 2009); see also Takeda Pharm. Co. v. Sun Pharma Global FZE, 2016 WL 9229318, at *5 (D.N.J. May 16, 2016) (construing claim term in a way that neither side proposed); P3 Int’l Corp. v. Unique Products, Mfg. Ltd., 2009 WL 1424178, at *8-9 (S.D.N.Y. May 21, 2009) (same); Retractable Techs., Inc. v. Becton Dickinson & Co., 2009 WL 837887, at *17 (E.D. Tex. Jan. 20, 2009) (same), aff’d in part and rev’d in part on other grounds, 653 F.3d 1296 (Fed. Cir. 2011); Negotiated Data Solutions, LLC v. Dell, Inc., 596 F.Supp.2d 949, 974-75 (E.D. Tex. 2009) (same).

         Thus, the Court’s construction of the claim term “cover” is “a cap that seals the case when closed or attached.” Below, the Court addresses why the Court’s construction is correct. As always, claim construction begins with an examination of the intrinsic evidence, Gillette Co. v. Energizer Holdings, Inc., 405 F.3d 1367, 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2005), and “gives primacy to the language of the claims, ” Tempo Lighting, Inc. v. Tivoli, LLC, 742 F.3d 973, 977 (Fed. Cir. 2014).

         a. Intrinsic Evidence

         The Court discusses the claim language, the prosecution history, and the specification in turn.

         i. Claim Language

         The Court begins by analyzing the claim language. According to the Federal Circuit, “claim terms must be interpreted consistently” with other claim terms. Southwall Techs., Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1579 (Fed. Cir. 1995). Claim 1 requires that the cover be “configured to selectively close and open the case”; the case must “enclose a volume corresponding to a flowable liquid product”; the ultraviolet radiation source must “turn off when the volume is not closed”; and the “flowable liquid product can be accessed when the case is open.” ’965 Patent at Cl. 1. Considering all these claim elements together, the “cover” requires that the case be sealed when closed. Claim 1 requires that the case “enclose a volume corresponding to a flowable liquid product.” Id. (emphasis added). Only when the case is open can the “flowable liquid product . . . be accessed.” Id. Thus, if the case is not sealed when closed, then the case can hardly be said to “enclose” a volume of the flowable liquid product accessible when the case is open. For instance, the volume of flowable liquid product could leak and thus become accessible when the case is closed. Thus, the flowable liquid product would not be enclosed by the case. Therefore, the claim terms support the Court’s construction that when the case is closed, the case is also “sealed.”

         ii. Prosecution History

         In response to a United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) office action rejecting various claims for being anticipated by the Palmer reference, United States Patent Application number 13/780, 546, the applicant traversed the examiner’s rejection by distinguishing the Palmer reference. ECF No. 62-1 at 8. The Palmer reference was directed to improving air quality in a home by, for instance, passing the air through a germicidal radiation chamber containing at least one ultraviolet light source. U.S. Patent Appl. No. 13/780, 546, Specification (filed February 28, 2013). The Palmer apparatus included a chamber with a cover. ECF No. 62-1 at 8. The applicant distinguished the Palmer reference by arguing that in Palmer, “regardless of the position of the cover” as open or closed, air could still pass into the chamber. Id. The applicant understood that in the instant invention, the cover, when closed, must seal the case such that a flowable liquid product in the volume of the case cannot leak out, unlike how the cover in Palmer, when closed, would not prevent air from passing into the chamber.

         On the other hand, Plaintiff asserts that the applicant distinguished the Palmer reference by arguing that the Palmer reference “does not disclose that the [Palmer reference’s] chamber [] encloses a volume corresponding to a flowable product as in claim 1.” Reply Br. at 3 (citing ECF No. 62-1 at 8). Also, Plaintiff believes the applicant’s argument in the previous paragraph regarding the permeability of the Palmer reference’s cover when closed was not sufficiently clear enough to disclaim embodiments of cases that fail to “seal” the enclosed volume when the cover is closed. Id. at 3. The Court finds Plaintiff’s arguments unpersuasive.

         First, although Plaintiff notes that the applicant distinguished the Palmer reference because the reference lacked a chamber that encloses a volume of a flowable product, that argument is not mutually exclusive of the applicant’s argument in the same paragraph that the Palmer reference is also distinguishable because the Palmer reference allows air to enter the chamber even if the cover is closed. The applicant merely identified two different ways in which the Palmer reference could be distinguished from the patent application.

         Moreover, the Court finds that the applicant disclaimed embodiments of cases that do not “seal” the enclosed volume when the case cover is closed. Prosecution disclaimer precludes “patentees from recapturing through claim interpretation specific meanings disclaimed during prosecution.” Omega Eng’g, Inc. v. Raytek Corp., 334 F.3d 1314, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2003). For prosecution disclaimer to attach, “the disavowal must be both clear and unmistakable.” Massachusetts Institute of Tech. v. Shire Pharm., Inc., 839 F.3d 1111, 1119 (Fed. Cir. 2016). “Where the alleged disavowal is ambiguous, or even amenable to multiple reasonable interpretations, we have declined to find prosecution disclaimer.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A clear and unmistakable disavowal of scope takes place when, for instance, “the patentee explicitly characterizes an aspect of his invention in a specific manner to overcome prior art.” Purdue Pharma L.P. v. Endo Pharm., Inc., 438 F.3d 1123, 1136 (Fed. Cir. 2006).

         Here, the Court finds that disavowal was clear and unmistakable because the applicant characterized an aspect of the invention in a specific manner to overcome the prior art Palmer reference. See Id . Specifically, the applicant characterized the claimed invention as a “containing case” that can store a “flowable product” within when the case is closed. ECF No. 62-1 at 9-10. To overcome the Palmer reference, the applicant argued that the Palmer reference’s chamber is “not described as storing anything” because “it is not described as being completely enclosed, thereby allowing air to enter and leave the chamber” even if the chamber’s cover is closed. Id. at 8-10. Therefore, the applicant distinguished the claimed invention from the Palmer reference by characterizing the claimed invention as a case able to store a flowable product if the case is closed and thereby “sealing” the flowable product within the case, whereas the Palmer reference’s chamber is permeable even if the chamber’s cover is closed. So, if the claimed invention does not “seal” flowable product within the closed case, which would allow flowable product to escape or leak from the case, the applicant could not have distinguished the Palmer reference because the Palmer reference’s chamber is permeable even if the chamber’s cover is closed.

         iii. Specification

         The ’965 Patent’s specification interchangeably uses “cover” and “cap.” See, e.g., ’965 Patent at 3:52-53 (disclosing “an ultraviolet impermeable cover (also referred to as a cap)”); id. at 4:52-53 (referring to the cover as an “ultraviolet impermeable cap”); id. at 6:24-26 (same). Thus, the specification supports the construction that a cap can be used to seal the case.

         However, the ’965 Patent makes no mention of a “lid, ” which Defendants include in their proposed construction. Resp. Br. at 2. Defendants argue that in reference to Fig. 13B, which depicts a powder compact, the specification refers to the lid of the powder compact as a “cap.” Resp. Br. at 2. However, the Patent does not refer to the powder compact as having a “lid.” Also, during the claim construction hearing, Defendants’ counsel admitted that “lid” and “cap” are, in practice, equivalent. Courts have declined to adopt constructions that include synonyms. Aircraft Technical Publishers v. Avantext, Inc., 2009 WL 3817944, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 10, 2009) (declining to add a “synonymous” term in a construction because “‘generating’ has the same meaning [as] ‘producing’”) (citing Static Control Components, Inc. v. Lexmark Int’l., Inc., 502 F.Supp.2d 568, 576 (E.D. Ky. 2007) (“[S]imply swapping words with synonyms is not construction.”)). Therefore, this Court finds that there is no need to include “lid” in this construction because Defendants’ counsel admitted that “lid” and “cap” are equivalent.

         b. Summary

         Intrinsic evidence such as the claim language, prosecution history, and patent specification all support the Court’s construction of the claim term “cover” in claim 1 of the ’965 Patent as “a cap that seals the case when closed or attached.”

         The Court need not consider extrinsic evidence because the meaning of the claim term “cover” is resolvable by reliance on intrinsic evidence. If the meaning of a claim term “can be resolved from the intrinsic evidence alone, we need not rely on any extrinsic evidence.” Pickholtz v. Rainbow Tech., Inc., 284 F.3d 1365, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2002). “Relying on extrinsic evidence to construe a claim is proper only when the claim language remains genuinely ambiguous after consideration of the intrinsic evidence.” Interactive Gift Express, Inc. v. Compuserve Inc., 256 F.3d 1323, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         3. “second compartment defines the volume”

Plaintiff’s Proposed Construction

Defendants’ Proposed Construction

Plain and ordinary meaning, or in the alternative, “the volume includes the second compartment”

Indefinite. In the alternative, “only the second compartment is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the at least one ultraviolet radiation source”

         The phrase “second compartment defines the volume” appears in claim 2 of the ’965 Patent. Claim 2 of the ’965 Patent recites:

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the case comprises:
a first compartment configured to store a first portion of the flowable liquid product; and
a second compartment configured to store a second portion of the flowable liquid product, wherein the second compartment includes a cover at least partially formed by an ultraviolet transparent material, and wherein the second compartment defines the volume such that the at least one ultraviolet radiation source is configured to generate ultraviolet radiation for disinfecting the second portion of the flowable liquid product through the ultraviolet transparent material,
wherein the first compartment and the second compartment are both located within an interior region of the case.

’965 Patent at Cl. 2 (emphasis added).

         Claim 1 of the ’965 Patent recites:

1. An apparatus comprising:
an ultraviolet radiation containing case configured to enclose a volume corresponding to a flowable liquid product, wherein the flowable liquid product can be accessed when the case is open;
a cover configured to selectively close and open the case;
at least one ultraviolet radiation source mounted on at least one of: the case or the cover, the at least one ultraviolet radiation source comprising an ultraviolet light emitting diode configured to generate ultraviolet radiation for disinfecting the volume corresponding to the flowable liquid product; and
a sensor configured to cause the at least one ultraviolet radiation source to turn off when the volume is not closed.

’965 Patent at Cl. 1.

         Plaintiff argues that “second compartment defines the volume” should be given its plain and ordinary meaning, or in the alternative, be construed to mean “the volume includes the second compartment.” Opening Br. at 5. Defendants argue that “second compartment defines the volume” is indefinite, or alternatively, should be construed to mean “only the second compartment is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the at least one ultraviolet radiation source.” Resp. Br. at 4.

         The Court finds that claim 2 is not indefinite. Moreover, for the reasons discussed below, the Court adopts Plaintiff’s proposed construction and construes the claim term “second compartment defines the volume” to mean “the volume includes the second compartment.”

         As always, claim construction begins with an examination of the intrinsic evidence, Gillette Co., 405 F.3d at 1370, and “gives primacy to the language of the claims, ” Tempo Lighting, Inc., 742 F.3d at 977.

         a. Intrinsic Evidence

         The Court begins with the claim language, then turns to the specification. Finally, the Court addresses why the claim is not indefinite.

         i. Claim Language

         There are two major points of contention between the parties. The first point of contention concerns the meaning of “defines the volume, ” and the second point of contention is over whether the claim term restricts exposure to ultraviolet radiation to only the second compartment. The Court discusses each point of contention in turn.

         a. “Defines the volume”

         First, the Court discusses the parties’ dispute over the meaning of “defines the volume.” Unfortunately, the ’965 Patent does not explicitly address what it means for the second compartment to “define” the volume. Defendants argue that in order for the second compartment to “define” the volume, the second compartment must occupy the entire volume of the case. Resp. Br. at 5. On the other hand, Plaintiff contends that “define” should not be interpreted in isolation. Rather, the entire phrase should be read in context with all the claim language. If read in context, Plaintiff asserts that the phrase is sufficiently clear that the relationship between the volume and the second compartment is such that the volume includes the second compartment. The Court finds that Plaintiff has the better argument.

         Under Federal Circuit law, “[p]roper claim construction . . . demands interpretation of the entire claim in context, not a single element in isolation.” Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc. v. Converse Inc., 183 F.3d 1369, 1374 (Fed. Cir. 1999); see also ACTV, Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., 346 F.3d 1082, 1088 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (“While certain terms may be at the center of the claim construction debate, the context of the surrounding words of the claim also must be considered . . . .”). “A claim construction that gives meaning to all the terms of the claim is preferred over one that does not do so . . . .” SimpleAir, Inc. v. Sony Ericsson Mobile Comm’cns AB, 820 F.3d 419, 429 (Fed. Cir. 2016); see also Bicon, Inc. v. Straumann Co., 441 F.3d 945, 950 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (“[C]laims are interpreted with an eye toward giving effect to all terms in the claim.”). Also, “claims should be so construed, if possible, as to sustain their validity.” MBO Labs., Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., 474 F.3d 1323, 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

         The claim language supports the Court’s construction. Claim 2 depends from claim 1, which means that claim 2 refers “back to and further limit[s]” claim 1. 37 C.F.R. § 1.75(c). The preamble of claim 2 discloses that claim 2’s elements relate to “the case, ” ’965 Patent at Cl. 2, which has antecedent support from claim 1’s disclosure of a “case configured to enclose a volume, ” id. at Cl. 1. Thus, the “case” described by claim 2 encloses a “volume.” However, claim 2 states that a first compartment and a second compartment are “both located within an interior region of the case.” ’965 Patent at Cl. 2 (emphasis added). This is the ’965 Patent’s one and only reference to “interior region.” Nevertheless, the Court finds that the specification provides guidance to decipher the meaning of “interior region.”

         Specifically, the ’965 Patent’s specification states that the case’s “volume [] can correspond to an interior of a case within which the flowable product is stored, an area where a portion of the flowable product is exposed, and/or the like.” Id. at 4:57-60 (emphasis added). The specification describes “interior” as a part of a case “within which the flowable product is scored.” Id. Likewise, the first and the second compartments as described in claim 2 both “store” portions of the “flowable liquid product.” Id. at Cl. 2. Thus, the “interior” as described in the specification performs the same function as the “interior region” as described in the claim (i.e., where first and second compartments that store flowable liquid product are located). Although the specification refers to “interior” as opposed to “interior region” as in claim 2, the Court finds that “interior” as used in the specification is synonymous with the meaning of claim 2’s “interior region.”

         Therefore, because claim 2 provides that the second compartment is located within an interior region of the case, and the specification links the case volume with the “interior of the case, ” the evidence supports the Court’s construction that “the volume includes the second compartment.” Though Defendants believe that the meaning of “defines the volume, ” part of the claim term, requires that the second compartment occupy the entire volume of the case, the Court’s discussion below explains why Defendants’ position is untenable. The only reasonable interpretation of “defines the volume” that gives effect to all claim terms is that the second compartment occupies a part of the volume of the case.

         If the second compartment, which stores the second portion of the flowable liquid, occupies the entirety of the case’s interior region as Defendants suggest, various claim elements would be impermissibly read out of the claims or be rendered nonsensical. See Bicon, Inc., 441 F.3d at 950 (“[C]laims are interpreted with an eye toward giving effect to all terms in the claim.”). For instance, one of claim 2’s elements is that “the first compartment and the second compartment are both located within an interior region of the case.” ’965 Patent at Cl. 2 (emphasis added). If the second compartment occupies the entire interior region of the case, the interior region of the case would not have room for the first compartment. Thus, Defendants’ argument improperly reads out claim 2’s requirement that the first and second compartments are both located within the case’s interior region.

         Furthermore, claim 1’s volume of “flowable liquid product” is divided into a “first portion” stored within the first compartment and a “second portion” stored within the second compartment. Id.; ’965 Patent at Cl. 1. If the second compartment were to constitute the entire interior region of the case as Defendants posit, the case could only ever contain the second compartment’s second portion of the flowable liquid product. There would be no room for the first compartment that contains the first portion of the flowable liquid product. Consequently, if the second compartment constitutes the entire interior region of the case, as Defendants posit, the volume of claim 1’s “flowable liquid product” cannot be divided into two portions and stored within two compartments located in the interior region of the case as claim 2 requires.

         In addition, if the second compartment were to constitute the entirety of the case’s interior region, the case could only ever enclose the volume that corresponds to the second portion of the flowable liquid product stored within the second compartment. As such, the second portion of the flowable liquid product would no longer be a portion of the volume of the flowable liquid product enclosed by the case, as required by claim 2. Rather, the second portion of the flowable liquid product would necessarily constitute the entire volume of flowable liquid product enclosed by the case. A contradiction arises because the second portion of the flowable liquid product cannot simultaneously be a portion of the flowable liquid product enclosed by the case and also be the entire amount of flowable liquid product enclosed by the case.

         Therefore, the plain language of the claims support the Court’s construction of “second compartment defines the volume” to mean “the volume includes the second compartment.”

         b. Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure

         Second, the parties disagree on whether the claim term limits exposure to ultraviolet radiation to just the second compartment. Claim 2 links the second compartment to ultraviolet radiation as follows:

[T]he second compartment defines the volume such that the at least one ultraviolet radiation source is configured to generate ultraviolet radiation for disinfecting the second portion of the flowable liquid product through the ultraviolet transparent material . . . .

’965 Patent at Cl. 2.

         In patent law, it is axiomatic that use of the word “comprising” or derivatives thereof, like “comprises, ” in the preamble of a patent claim “is well understood to mean including but not limited to.” CIAS, Inc. v. Alliance Gaming Corp., 504 F.3d 1356, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). A patent claim using “comprises” can explicitly disclose various claim elements, but does not preclude the inclusion of additional, unrecited elements in the claim. Here, claim 2 uses “comprises, ” so even though claim 2 states that the “at least one ultraviolet radiation source is configured to generate ultraviolet radiation for disinfecting the second portion of the flowable liquid product, ” claim 2 does not preclude the possibility that ultraviolet radiation may be used to disinfect the first portion of the flowable liquid product as well. ’965 Patent at Cl. 2. In fact, claim 7, which depends from claim 2, claims a “plurality of ultraviolet radiation sources” configured to “disinfect the first portion of the flowable liquid product.” ’965 Patent at Cl. 7. Thus, the ’965 Patent’s claims support the Court’s conclusion that because claim 2’s preamble uses “comprises” to describe the elements of claim 2, the claim does not prohibit interior regions of the case other than the second compartment from being disinfected.

         In sum, claim 2 does not preclude areas other than the second compartment from being exposed to and disinfected by ultraviolet radiation. As a result, the Court cannot adopt Defendants’ construction of the claim term because the construction erroneously limits the exposure to ultraviolet radiation to “only the second compartment.” Resp. Br. at 4 (emphasis added).

         ii. Specification

         The ’965 Patent’s specification supports the Court’s construction that “the volume includes the second compartment” as well as Plaintiff’s position that the claim term does not restrict the exposure of ultraviolet radiation to just the second compartment.

         Fig. 2B below depicts a container (item 40) that contains a first compartment (item 24) and a second compartment (item 26). ’965 Patent at 6:55, 62-64. The second compartment (item 26) can have a cover (item 27) at least partially made of material transparent to ultraviolet radiation. Id. at 7:1-2. The cap (item 2) can be attached to the container (item 40). Id. at 7:22. Ultraviolet radiation sources (item 4) can be positioned to direct ultraviolet radiation at the second compartment (item 26) such that ultraviolet radiation passes through the second compartment’s cover (item 27) and into the second compartment (item 26), which may contain flowable liquid product (item 29). Id. at 7:24-32. In addition, “any portion of the second compartment [(item 26)] can be fabricated using an ultraviolet transparent material.” Id. at 7:20-21.

         When the cap (item 2) is attached to the container (item 40), the cap (item 2) thereby encloses the volume of the container (item 40). Id. at 2:12-18. The second compartment (item 26) is located within the volume. Id. at 2:38-40. Therefore, Fig. 2 and the detailed description associated with Fig. 2 buttress the Court’s construction that “the volume includes the second compartment.”

         Moreover, assuming arguendo that the second compartment (item 27) were made entirely of an ultraviolet transparent material, the ultraviolet radiation directed at the second compartment

(Image Omitted)

(item 26) could pass through the second compartment (item 27) and into the first compartment (item 24). Therefore, even though the ultraviolet radiation sources (item 4) are positioned to emit ultraviolet radiation into the second compartment (item 27), the specification does not limit exposure to ultraviolet radiation to just the second compartment (item 27). In fact, the specification states that “the ultraviolet radiation source(s) [(item 4)] can be operated . . . to disinfect the portions of . . . the container [(item 40)]. Id. at 7:33-35.

         iii. Why Claim 2 is not Indefinite

         The Court rejects Defendants’ position that the claim is indefinite because a skilled artisan would understand, with reasonable certainty, the scope of the invention.

         The United States Supreme Court has held that if a claim, “viewed in light of the specification and prosecution history, inform[s] those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty, ” the claim is not indefinite. Nautilus, 572 U.S. at 910. In applying the Nautilus standard, the Federal Circuit has cautioned that “the dispositive question in an indefiniteness inquiry is whether the ‘claims, ’ not particular claim terms” fail the Nautilus test. Cox Commc’ns, 838 F.3d at 1231. Defendants bear the “burden of proving indefiniteness by clear and convincing evidence.” BASF Corp. v. Johnson Matthey Inc., 875 F.3d 1360, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2017).

         Defendants believe claim 2 is indefinite for two reasons. First, Defendants argue that claim 2 is indefinite because “the second compartment defines the volume” renders claim 2 internally contradictory. Resp. Br. at 5. Defendants assert that in order for the second compartment to “define” the volume enclosed by the case, the second compartment must occupy the entire volume enclosed by the case. Id. at 5-6. The contradiction arises because claim 2 requires that a first compartment also be located in an interior region of the case, a physical impossibility if the second compartment occupies the whole volume enclosed by the case. Second, Defendants find it contradictory that claim 1 requires the “at least one ultraviolet radiation source” to disinfect the volume, “but in each of the illustrated embodiments, the ‘at least one ultraviolet radiation source’ disinfects only the second compartment and the second portion of flowable liquid product therein.” Id. at 5 (emphasis added).

         Defendants are correct in their understanding that “claims that [are] internally contradictory” are indefinite, and “claims that contradict[] the specification [are] invalid as indefinite.” Multilayer Stretch Fling Film Holdings, Inc. v. Berry Plastics Corp., 831 F.3d 1350, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2016). However, the Court finds that claim 2 is not internally contradictory and does not contradict the specification. Below, the Court addresses each of Defendants’ arguments in turn.

         First, the purported internal contradiction within claim 2 is of Defendants’ own making because the contradiction only arises under Defendants’ erroneous interpretation of “second compartment defines the volume.” Specifically, Defendants interpret “defines the volume” to mean that the second compartment occupies the entire volume enclosed by the case, which creates the contradiction because claim 2 requires that a first compartment also occupy part of the volume enclosed by the case.

         As discussed above, under Federal Circuit law, “claims are interpreted with an eye toward giving effect to all terms in the claim, ” Bicon, Inc., 441 F.3d at 950, and “claims should be so construed, if possible, as to sustain their validity, ” MBO Labs., Inc., 474 F.3d at 1332. Defendants’ interpretation fails to give effect to “all terms in the claim” because the interpretation reads out multiple limitations from claim 2. Bicon, Inc., 441 F.3d at 950. For instance, Defendants’ interpretation reads out claim 2’s requirements that: “the first compartment and the second compartment are both located within an interior region of the case”; the volume of claim 1’s “flowable liquid product” is divided into two portions and stored within two compartments located in the interior region of the case; and the second compartment contains a second “portion” of the flowable liquid product. ’965 Patent at Cl. 2. Moreover, Defendants’ interpretation gives rise to the aforementioned contradiction, even though “claims should be so construed, if possible, as to sustain their validity.” MBO Labs., Inc., 474 F.3d at 1332. Thus, as discussed above, the only reasonable interpretation of “second compartment defines the volume” that gives effect to all claim terms and does not render claim 2 internally contradictory is Plaintiff’s and the Court’s construction that “the volume includes the second compartment.”

         Second, Defendants find it contradictory that claim 1 requires the “at least one ultraviolet radiation source” to disinfect the volume, “but in each of the illustrated embodiments, the ‘at least one ultraviolet radiation source’ disinfects only the second compartment and the second portion of flowable liquid product therein.” Resp. Br. at 5. However, it is not true that all the illustrated embodiments show that the ultraviolet radiation source only disinfects the second compartment and the second portion of flowable liquid product. As discussed above, Fig. 2B above depicts a container (item 40) that contains a first compartment (item 24) and a second compartment (item 26). ’965 Patent at 6:55, 62-64. Ultraviolet radiation sources (item 4) can be positioned to direct ultraviolet radiation at the second compartment (item 26) such that ultraviolet radiation passes through the second compartment’s cover (item 27) and into the second compartment (item 26). Id. at 7:1-2. However, “any portion of the second compartment [(item 26)] can be fabricated using an ultraviolet transparent material.” Id. at 7:20-21. Thus, if the second compartment (item 27) were made entirely of an ultraviolet transparent material, the ultraviolet radiation directed at the second compartment (item 26) could pass through the second compartment (item 27) and into the first compartment (item 24). In addition, the specification states that “the ultraviolet radiation sources [(item 4)] can be operated . . . to disinfect the portions of . . . the container [(item 40)]. Id. at 7:33-35. Therefore, there is no contradiction because Fig. 2B and its corresponding description within the specification do not limit the “at least one ultraviolet radiation source” from disinfecting the volume within the container.

         In sum, Defendants have failed to meet their burden of proving claim 2 to be indefinite by clear and convincing evidence. The Court’s construction of the claim term does not create an internal contradiction within claim 2, and Fig. 2B is an illustrated embodiment that shows that the “at least one ultraviolet radiation source” can, for instance, be used to disinfect the first compartment or the volume of the container. See, e.g., Omega Engineering, Inc. v. Raytek Corp., 334 F.3d 1314, 1335-36 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (finding that claims were no longer indefinite after construing claims in a manner that eliminated an “inherent contradiction” within the claims).

         b. Summary

         Intrinsic evidence such as the claim language and patent specification all support the Court’s construction of the claim term “second compartment defines the volume” in claim 2 of the ’965 Patent as “the volume includes the second compartment.”

         The Court need not consider extrinsic evidence because the meaning of the claim term “second compartment defines the volume” is resolvable by reliance on intrinsic evidence. If the meaning of a claim term “can be resolved from the intrinsic evidence alone, we need not rely on any extrinsic evidence.” Pickholtz, 284 F.3d at 1373. “Relying on extrinsic evidence to construe a claim is proper only when the claim language remains genuinely ambiguous after consideration of the intrinsic evidence.” Interactive Gift Express, Inc., 256 F.3d at 1332 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         B. The ’496 Patent

         1. Overview of the ’496 Patent

         The ’496 Patent, entitled Light Emitting Heterostructure with Partially Relaxed Semiconductor Layer, is directed toward a “light emitting heterostructure” that includes a partially relaxed semiconductor layer that “can be included as a sublayer of a contact semiconductor layer of the light emitting heterostructure.” ’496 Patent at 2:26-30. In other words, the ’496 Patent is directed at improving, for instance, the light emitting characteristics of a heterostructure by adding and arranging various layers to the heterostructure in ways that can result in fewer defects in the light generating structure of the heterostructure. Id. at 2:30-34. The Court finds Fig. 7 of the Patent to be illuminating.

         Fig. 7 below depicts all the layers that can comprise an embodiment of the light emitting

(Image Omitted)

heterostructure (item 12C). There is an n-type contact semiconductor layer (item 22) located on an opposing side of the light generating structure (item 14) and a p-type contact semiconductor layer (item 28) located on an opposing side of the light generating structure (item 14), a few layers above the light generating structure (item 14). Id. at 7:56-60. A “partially relaxed p-type contact semiconductor layer [item 18] and a dislocation blocking structure [item 16C] are shown embedded in the p-type contact semiconductor layer [item 28].” Id. at 7:60-63. There is an electron blocking layer (item 29) adjacent to the light generating structure (item 14). Id. at 7:63-64. The dislocation blocking structure (item 16C) is composed of alternating compressive and tensile layers. Id. at 8:1-2.

         Here, the parties request construction of two terms: (1) “embedded partially relaxed sublayer” (found in claims 1, 4, 7, and 12); and (2) “dislocation blocking structure” (found in claims 1, 7, and 12). Below, the Court addresses each claim term in turn.

         2. “embedded partially relaxed sublayer”

Plaintiff’s Proposed Construction

Defendants’ Proposed Construction

“The p-type contact semiconductor layer and/or the n-type contact semiconductor layer incorporates within that layer a semiconductor sublayer that includes dislocations that reduce stress”

“a sublayer that includes dislocations that reduce stress and is surrounded by the layer it is incorporated into”

         The claim term “embedded partially relaxed sublayer” appears in claims 1, 4, 7, and 12. Claim 1 of the ’496 Patent recites:

1. A heterostructure comprising:
a substrate;
a buffer layer adjacent to the substrate;
a light generating structure having a first side and a second side, wherein the substrate is transparent to light generated by the light generating structure;
and n-type contact semiconductor layer located on the first side of the light generating structure;
a p-type contact semiconductor layer located on the second side of the light generating structure, wherein at least one of the contact semiconductor layers includes an embedded partially relaxed sublayer, and wherein at least one of the contact semiconductor layers is located between the light generating structure and the buffer layer; and
a dislocation blocking structure located between the partially relaxed sublayer and the light generating structure, wherein the dislocation blocking structure includes a graded composition that changes from a first side of the ...

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