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SOLAIA TECHNOLOGY LLC v. ARVINMERITOR

September 17, 2003

SOLAIA TECHNOLOGY LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARVINMERITOR, INC., THE BOEING COMPANY, CALLAWAY GOLF COMPANY, CONOCO, INC., ENBRIDGE, INC., ENBRIDGE ENERGY COMPANY, INC., ENBRIDGE ENERGY PARTNERS, L.P., THE GILLETTE COMPANY, SUN CHEMICAL CORPORATION, AND TYCO INTERNATIONAL (U.S.) INC., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald Guzman, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On July 2, 2002, Solaia Technology L.L.C. ("Solaia" or "plaintiff) filed suit against Arvinmeritor, Inc., The Boeing Company, Callaway Golf Company, Conoco, Inc., Eastman Kodak Company,*fn1 Enbridge, Inc., Enbridge Energy Company, Inc., Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., The Gillette Company, Sun Chemical Corporation, and Tyco International Inc. ("defendants"). (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 22.) The complaint alleged infringement of Claims 11 and 12 of U.S. Patent No. 5,038,318 ("the `318 patent"). Id. The defendants Arvinmeritor, Inc., The Boeing Company, Callaway Golf Company, Concoco, Inc., Enbridge Energy Company, Inc., The Gillette Company, and Tyco International Inc. ("joint defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of Patent Invalidity Due to Lack of Enablement. [ Page 2]

FACTS

The application that eventually matured into the `318 patent was filed on December 17, 1987. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3)(B) ¶ 5.) The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the `318 patent on August 6, 1991. Id. The `318 patent claims a particular type of PLC control system that moves messages directly between a commercial spreadsheet on a PC and two or more PLC's without using either the operating system or any device drivers. Claim 11 of the `318 patent reads in pertinent part:

11. A system for operating equipment by an operator, the system comprising:
A. a plurality of programmable logic controllers coupled to the equipment . . .
B. a computer having operably interconnected visual display, keyboard, memory, and central processor . . . C. Interface means electrically connected between said computer and said network for receiving messages from each of said programmable logic controllers . . . D. spreadsheet instruction means contained in said memory for effecting a general purpose spreadsheet program in said computer . . .
E. add-in instruction means contained in said memory for presenting add-in menu commands and interrupt selected instructions operating through said spreadsheet instruction means for said interrupt selected instructions to move sequentially received messages from said message registers to respective assigned address locations in said memory upon occurrence of each interrupt signal, and for said add-in menu commands to move said messages from said assigned address locations in said memory to respective assigned cells in said spreadsheet instruction means so that messages from said programmable logic controllers indicating the condition of said equipment can be saved and moved directly to said cells.
Claim 12 of the `318 patent reads in pertinent part:
12. A device for transmitting and receiving electrical signals forming messages to and from respective addressable registers located in respective addressable programmable logic controllers that are connected together over a communications network, said device comprising:
A. process means connected to said communications network for moving said electrical signals forming messages to and from respective registers located in said processor means
B. spreadsheet means contained in said processor means . . .
C. add-in program means contained in said processor means for inserting in at least one cell information including the address of a particular register in a particular [ Page 3]
programmable logic controller to which a message is to be sent and indicating the content of said message; and
d. add-in program means contained in said processor means for executing an action in said spreadsheet means to cause said spreadsheet means to transmit said message from said cell through said registers in said process means to the said addressed particular register in said particular programmable logic controller.
The Joint Defendants have focused on the "add-in instruction means . . ." of Claim 11, and the "add-in program means" of Claim 12 in challenging the validity of the `318 patent.

In an earlier case, Solaia Technology v. Jefferson Smurfit et al, 01 C 6641, (N.D. 111.), the Honorable James F. Holderman, in an order dated March 28, 2002, construed the disputed limitations of Claims 11 and 12. In this order, Claim 11's limitation "add-in instruction means' was construed to correspond to the structure "add-in program." (`318 patent, Fig. 2, Item 28.) Claim 12's limitation of "add-in program means" was construed to correspond to the same structure, "add-in program." (`318 patent, Fig. 2, Item 28.) For purposes of this Motion, both parties have agreed to accept that construction. (Def's LR 56.1(a)(3)(B) ¶ 8; Def's Reply Brief, at 5.)

The certified copy of the `318 patent states, "[t]he source code listing for the add-in program 28 of the invention comprises program pages 1-118 and is set forth herein." (`318 patent, col. 17, lines 3-5.) The source code was originally filed with the application that resulted in the `318 patent. (Pl's LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 4.) However, the certified copy of the `318 patent does not include any printouts of the source code. (Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3)(B) ¶ 6.) After the `318 patent issued, the public could gain access to the source code either by reviewing the file of the patent or by ordering a complete copy of the file history through a number of companies that provide that service. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 5.)

The `318 patent describes the add-in program:

Add-in program 28 present [sic] three features: menu commands to initialize the features for moving messages between the cells and the PLC registers, block moves [ Page 4]
of information between the cells and the PLC registers, fixed and floating point information formats and dumping the contents of the mailbox memory locations to assigned cells in the spreadsheet; at functions to move messages between the spreadsheet cells and the PLC registers, [sic] and to perform logical operations; and interrupt driven information transfers from the interface card registers to corresponding memory locations in the mailbox area of the RAM memory 76. The add-in program 28 also includes memory locations 82 for local variables used in effecting the message transfers through the spreadsheet program 26.
(318 patent, col. 8, lines 12-29.)

Solaia has presented opinion testimony stating that the' 318 patent specification and drawings include guidance and instructions on how a programmer could write the add-in program, and that the specific add-in program was not necessary to practice the invention. (Pl.'s LR 56.1 (b)(3)(B) ¶¶ 7, 8.) Solaia presented opinion testimony stating that a programmer could write a program in a variety of programming languages by reviewing the unique guidance and instruction provided in the `318 specification. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 13.) The `318 patent discloses the desirability of software which can communicate data from PLC to spreadsheet, prepare the spreadsheet for the receipt of data, and handle data transmission within the spreadsheet itself. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 17.) Solaia has presented opinion testimony that based on the disclosures of the `318 patent, a skilled programmer could, within a reasonable amount of time, easily write software to implement the software portions of the preferred embodiment of the claims, and could locate, build, or install hardware to implement the hardware portions of the preferred embodiment of the claims. (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶¶ 23, 27, 28, 29.) "Solaia made it clear in the specification that creating at least a portion of [t]he [sic] add-in program could easily be accomplished using commercial spreadsheet tools." (Pl.'s LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 7.)

DISCUSSION

Summary judgment is appropriate 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); Johnston v. IVAC [ Page 5]

Corp., 885 F.2d 1574, 1576-77 (Fed. Cir. 1989). Summary judgment may be granted when no "reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, with doubts resolved in favor of the nonmovant. Transmatic, Inc. v. Gulton Indus., Inc., 53 F.3d 1270, 1274 (Fed. Cir. 1995). Moreover, the court must "view . . . the evidence presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary burden" that would inhere at trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254. This burden rests upon an accused ...


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