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IP Litigation

Massachusetts Patent Litigation Wrap Up – January 2019

March 19, 2019

IP Litigation

Massachusetts Patent Litigation Wrap Up – January 2019

March 19, 2019

Back to Fish's Litigation Blog

 

This post is a part of a monthly series summarizing notable activity in patent litigation in the District of Massachusetts, including short summaries of substantive orders.

Enovate Medical, LLC v. Definitive Technology Group, LLC, No. 18-10296 (D. Mass. Jan. 25, 2019) (Stearns, D.J.)

Memorandum and Order on Claim Construction

Plaintiff Enovate Medical, LLC alleges that defendant Definitive Technology Group, LLC, infringes U.S. Patent No. 7,782,607 (the ’607 patent).  The ’607 patent is directed to improvements in mobile workstations commonly used in hospitals and clinics, and the parties’ dispute centered on the construction of eight claim terms.  Enovate Medical, LLC v. Definitive Tech. Grp., LLC, No. 18-10296-RGS, Dkt. 51 at 2, 6 (D. Mass. Jan. 25, 2019) (Stearns, D.J.).

“the removable battery assembly being in the discharge state whenever docked with the battery docking station”

As to the claim term, “the removable battery assembly being in the discharge state whenever docked with the docking station,” the parties argued over whether the discharge state can include both when the battery is charging and when the battery is not actively discharging.  Enovate, citing the specification, asserted that a battery is in the discharge state when it is “capable of being in the discharge state.”  DTG relied on the dictionary definition of “charge” as well as the prosecution history and contended that a battery in the discharge state “is discharged and is not being charged (or otherwise receiving power).”

While the Court generally agreed with DTG, it rejected the portion of DTG’s proposed construction that required active discharging in the discharge state.  Ultimately, the Court construed “the removable battery assembly being in the discharge state whenever docked with the battery docking station” as “the removable battery assembly is not charging whenever docked with the battery docking station.”

the “discharging” terms

The parties also disagreed over three terms containing the word “discharging.”  The first two require “discharging a battery of [the removable battery assembly/the substitute battery assembly] whenever [the removable battery assembly/the substitute battery assembly] is docked with the docking station and the power system is on.”  The third requires “discharging a third battery whenever neither of the removable battery assembly nor the substitute battery assembly is docked with the battery docking station and the power is on.”  DTG sought to define “discharging a [] battery []” as “the [] battery [] is discharged and is not being charged (or otherwise receiving power),” whereas Enovate’s proposed construction maintained the original claim language other than replacing “whenever” with “when.”

The Court, noting the dictionary definition of “battery” and “direct current,” agreed with DTG that when each of the three batteries is discharging, the battery is not simultaneously charging.  Accordingly, the Court construed the “discharging” terms as:

  • “discharging (and not charging) a battery of the removable battery assembly whenever the removable battery assembly is docked with the battery docking station and the power is on”
  • “discharging (and not charging) a battery of the substitute battery assembly is docked with the battery docking station and the power is on”
  • “discharging (and not charging) a third battery whenever neither of the removable battery assembly nor the substitute battery assembly is docked with the battery docking station and the power system is on.”

“holster”

As to the term, “holster,” the parties agreed that a holster is something configured to hold or receive a battery assembly, but they disagreed whether the term can encompass additional structure.  Enovate argued that a holster is any “structure configured to hold a battery assembly.”  DTG, citing a disclosed embodiment in the specification and various dictionary definitions, contended that a holster is “a case or compartment having enclosed sides.”

The Court found that while Enovate’s proposed construction was overbroad because not all structures that could hold a battery assembly constitute “holsters,” DTG’s interpretation was both too restrictive and too broad because enclosed sides were neither a necessary nor inherent feature of a holster.  The Court, noting that the claims required that the holster be “mounted” and that the holster “defin[e] a guide” for the battery assembly, construed “holster” as an “attached close-fitting holder for a battery assembly.

“opposite blind end”

Enovate sought to construe “opposite blind end” as the “end of holster opposite open end.”  DTG, on the other hand, defined the term as “an end opposite the open end of the holster that is not visible when a battery assembly is positioned therein.”

The Court agreed with DTG that Enovate’s definition read out the “blind” limitation, but because “blind end” is recited in direct juxtaposition to the “open end” through which the battery passes into the holster, the Court reasoned that a “blind end” is most properly understood as the “closed end” through which the battery does not pass.  Ultimately, the Court construed the “opposite blind end” as “closed end opposite the open end.”

“guide”

DTG proposed to construe “guide” as a “feature of a holster that guides the battery assembly during insertion or removal.”  Citing a dictionary definition, the specification, and the language of the claims themselves, the Court construed “guide” as “a feature on the holster to position the battery assembly during insertion, removal, or use of the battery assembly.”

“extending from the open end to the blind end”

Enovate argued that the plain meaning of “extending from the open end to the blind end” is “between the open end and the blind end.”  DTG, citing a dictionary definition of “extend,” argued that Enovate’s proposed definition impermissibly reads out the “extending” limitation, because something that is less than the full length between the ends may be “between” the ends, but does not stretch to full length from one end to the other.  The Court agreed with DTG and adopted its construction, “extending fully from the open end to the blind end.”

Colon-Morciglio v. United States, No. 17-cv-2312 (D.P.R. Jan. 2, 2019) (Young, D.J.)

Order Denying Motion to Stay Proceeding in Light of Lapse of Appropriations

In a case involving a veteran’s negligence claims against the federal government, Judge Young of the District of Massachusetts, sitting as a visiting judge for the District of Puerto Rico, recently admonished the Department of Justice for attempting to delay litigation in light of the federal government shutdown.  In a two-page order denying the government’s motion to stay, Judge Young criticized the lapse in appropriations as “simply an abdication by the President and the Congress . . . of the duty to govern responsibly to the end that all the laws may be faithfully executed.”  Colon-Morciglio v. United States, No. 17-cv-2312, Dkt. 20 at 1-2 (D.P.R. Jan. 2, 2019) (Young, D.J.).  Judge Young went on, characterizing the government’s request as “laughable”:

Imagine a major corporation engaged in various litigation both as plaintiff and defendant.  For whatever reason, it decides not to pay its attorneys and instructs them not to interact with the Court lest they have a plausible claim on the corporation for their services.  Then the corporation says to the Court, “We greatly regret any disruption caused to the court and to other litigants, but please stay all proceedings until we get our act together.”  This does not constitute “good cause” for any stay.  In fact, it is laughable.

Id. at 2.  The case is in the middle of fact discovery, which closes at the end of March 2019.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors on the date noted above and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fish & Richardson P.C., any other of its lawyers, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This post is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed.

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Boston attorney
Philip K. Chen | Associate

Philip Chen is an associate in Fish & Richardson’s Boston office. He previously worked as a summer associate with the firm, where he worked on various patent litigation matters. During law school, Philip worked with the BU/MIT Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic, in which he provided counseling and representation to students with their...

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