Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

ONE WORLD TECHNOLOGIES, LTD. v. REXON INDUS. CORP.

June 3, 2005.

ONE WORLD TECHNOLOGIES, LTD. and RYOBI TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
REXON INDUSTRIAL CORP., LTD., POWER TOOL SPECIALISTS, INC., PORTER-CABLE CORP., DELTA INTERNATIONAL MACHINERY CORP., and PENTAIR, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATTHEW KENNELLY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

One World Technologies, Ltd. and Ryobi Technologies, Inc. (collectively, "One World") have sued the defendants for infringement of two patents. One World asserts U.S. Patent No. 6,755,107 against Rexon Industrial Corp., Ltd. and Power Tool Specialists, Inc. (collectively, "Rexon") and Porter-Cable Corp., Delta International Machinery Corp., and Pentair, Inc. (collectively, "Porter-Cable"). One World also asserts U.S. Patent No. 6,360,797 against Rexon. This case is before the Court for construction of disputed claim language in the two patents-in-suit.

Facts

  One World contends that the Rexon and Porter-Cable defendants' miter saws infringe the '107 patent, entitled "Interrupted Laser Line Patent." Miter saws are used to cut at precise angles workpieces made of wood and other materials. Prior to inventions that improved the ease of alignment, the operator of the saw would mark the location of the cut on the workpiece according to precise measurements and would typically lower the saw head assembly to the workpiece to determine if the blade was aligned with the reference mark. If necessary, the operator would raise the saw and move the workpiece until the proper alignment was achieved.

  Inventors have proposed various solutions to improve the ease of aligning the blade to the desired area to be cut on the workpiece, including the use of lasers and louvered blade guards that the operator can see through while cutting. One World built upon the prior art by developing a laser beam alignment system designed to align the saw blade and the workpiece while at the same time protecting the operator from cutting the debris and from having the laser beam directed into his eyes.

  One World asserts claims 4-19 against Rexon and claims 4-10 against Porter-Cable. The parties contest twelve claim limitations with respect to the '107 patent.

  One World's "Portable Power Tool Assembly Patent," which is covered by number 6,360,797, is a portable power tool assembly for a woodworking implement and motor that may be used in a variety of working conditions and locations without requiring disassembly or modification. The assembly generally includes a base, a handle, wheels, and retractable legs. When the retractable legs are extended, the assembly may be used as a stand-alone unit. Alternatively, the legs may be retracted, allowing the base to be placed directly on a horizontal surface, such as a workbench. The invention is said to have improved upon the prior art assemblies, which normally included a housing containing a power tool mounted to a separate stand or work bench, by enabling the operator to conveniently transport larger power tools without disassembling the unit.

  One World asserts claims 1-13 against Rexon with respect to the '797 patent. These parties dispute six limitations that they contend are material to resolution of the case. In addition to the briefs submitted, the parties were afforded the opportunity to present oral argument on claim construction for both patents during an April 22, 2005 hearing.

  Discussion

  Construing the claims of the patent-in-suit is the first step in any patent infringement case. See Mars, Inc. v. H.J. Heinz Co., 377 F.3d 1369, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2004). The construction of the claims is a question of law to be determined by the Court. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-78 (Fed. Cir. 1995). The Federal Circuit directs courts to begin the claim construction analysis by examining the claim language itself. See Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc. v. Avia Group Intern, Inc., 222 F.3d 951, 955 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Initially, the claim term's ordinary and customary meaning, as understood by persons skilled in the relevant technology, serves as the default meaning. See id. The court may use dictionaries, encyclopedias, and treatises to assist in determining the ordinary and customary meaning of claim terms. Texas Digital Systems, Inc. v. Telegenix, Inc., 308 F.3d 1193, 1202 (Fed. Cir. 2002).

  The presumption of ordinary meaning may be rebutted if the patentee acted as her own lexicographer by clearly setting forth an explicit definition of the term different from its ordinary meaning or if the patentee has disavowed the scope of claim coverage by using words of manifest exclusion or restriction. Id. at 1204. Thus, it is necessary to review the specification and, if submitted into evidence, the prosecution history to determine whether the inventor has used any terms in a manner inconsistent with their ordinary meaning. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996). Courts may resort to extrinsic evidence only if the analysis of intrinsic evidence proves insufficient to resolve ambiguity in a disputed claim. Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc., 222 F.3d at 955.

  1. The '107 Patent

  The first two disputed limitations, "narrow beam of light" and "adjacent the cutting disc" are found in nearly identical passages of claims four and five of the '107 patent. Claim four discloses "[a] cutting machine comprising: . . . a light source mounted to the motor driven cutting assembly and arranged to emit a narrow beam of light adjacent the cutting disc for providing a visual indication of the alignment of the cutting disc with the workpiece." A similar passage in claim five discloses "a miter saw comprising. . . . a light source mounted to the motor driven cutting assembly, the light source emitting a narrow beam of light adjacent the circular saw blade for providing a visual indication of the alignment of the circular saw blade with the workpiece."

  a. Narrow beam of light

  One World asserts that the phrase to "emit a narrow beam of light" means to give off a thin ray of light. Porter-Cable's proffered definition is a ray of light that appears narrow regardless of the vantage point from which it is viewed and does not cover a fan-shaped projection of light. In submitting this interpretation, Porter-Cable urges the Court to define the term so as to explicitly exclude a fan-shaped projection of light, which is the type of laser beam emitted by the Porter-Cable defendants' inventions.

  The ordinary meaning of "narrow" is "of slender width," Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 772 (10th ed. 1999), or "of small or limited width, especially in comparison with length." The American Heritage Dictionary 1169 (4th ed. 2000). Merriam-Webster defines "beam" as "a ray or shaft of light." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 99 (10th ed. 1999). Thus, the ordinary meaning of narrow beam of light is a ray or shaft of light of slender width.

  Porter-Cable does not appear to disagree that this is the ordinary meaning of the claim language. See Porter-Cable Resp. at 11. It urges the Court, however, to additionally specify that a fan-shaped projection of light does not fall within the bounds of this definition of "narrow beam." Porter-Cable refers the Court to the discussion of the Kelly Patent that appears in the background section of the patent and in the prosecution history. Porter-Cable argues that the Kelly Patent makes it clear that one of ordinary skill in the relevant technology would not include a fan-shaped beam within the definition of narrow beam. In essence, Porter-Cable urges the Court to undertake an infringement analysis, as all of Porter-Cable's products use light projectors that project light in a fan shape. It is settled law, however, that claims must not be construed with reference to an accused product. See SRI Int'l v. Matsushita Elec. Corp., 775 F.2d 1107, 1118 (Fed. Cir. 1985). "It is only after the claims have been construed without reference to the accused device that the claims, as so construed, are applied to the accused device to determine infringement." Id. Thus, Porter-Cable's request that the Court find that "narrow beam" does not encompass a fan-shaped projection of light is premature.

  Porter-Cable also submits the testimony of its expert, Paul Hatch, as evidence that one of ordinary skill in the technology would construe a claim limitation containing the term "narrow beam" to mean narrow from any vantage point and that this limitation excludes a fan-shaped beam. Though the Court was willing to entertain Hatch's testimony during the claim construction hearing to educate itself about the underlying technology, we will not rely on his expert testimony in construing the claim. As mentioned above, courts should rely on extrinsic evidence only if the meaning of a claim is ambiguous from the intrinsic evidence. See Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc., 222 F.3d at 955. The parties have not suggested that the meaning is ambiguous, nor does the Court find the language ambiguous. Nothing in the claim language, specification, or prosecution history suggests that the phrase narrow beam of light means something different from its ordinary and customary meaning. Moreover, the proposed expert testimony specifically relates to whether or not a fan-shaped beam falls within the scope of the claim limitation. The Court reiterates that it is premature to make that determination at the claim construction juncture. In sum, the Court construes "narrow beam of light" to mean a ray or shaft of light of slender width.

  b. Adjacent the cutting disc

  The parties next dispute the meaning of "adjacent the cutting disc" and "adjacent the circular saw blade" limitations found in claims four and five. One World maintains that the claim language unambiguously refers to the spatial relationship between the cutting disc or saw blade and the end point of the light beam. Porter-Cable contends that the phrase should be interpreted as requiring that the emission of the narrow beam of light originate at a location adjacent to the cutting disc or saw blade. Porter-Cable asserts that the plain and ordinary meaning of these limitations is ambiguous, as it is susceptible to both its own and One World's interpretations. It urges the Court to adopt the narrower meaning, which Porter-Cable avers is its own. Porter-Cable also maintains that its construction is in accord with the patent examiner's understanding as evidenced in the prosecution history.

  The Court agrees with One World that the claim language unambiguously refers to the spatial relationship between the end point of the laser beam and the cutting disc/saw blade. As One World points out in its reply, the surrounding claim language makes it clear that the light source mounted to the cutting assembly is arranged such that the narrow beam of light is emitted adjacent the cutting disc/saw blade. See ACTV, Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., 346 F.3d 1082, 1088 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (instructing that the surrounding words of a term at issue in a claim construction debate must be considered in determining the ordinary meaning). Nothing in the claim language indicates that the light source itself is adjacent the cutting disc. In fact, the variation of the limitation found in claim five leaves even less doubt that this is the intended meaning, as the first part of the sentence describing the location of the light source, "a light source mounted to the motor driven cutting assembly," is separated by a comma from the next part of the sentence describing the light beam it emits, "the light source emitting a narrow beam of light adjacent the circular saw blade." Finally, the Court does not find compelling Porter-Cable's argument that the prosecution history indicates a contrary meaning for this limitation. The Court sees nothing in the file history that reflects that One World did anything to alter or disavow the ordinary meaning of the claim term in context as we have read it.

  Having determined that the claim limitation refers to the spatial relationship between the end point of the light beam and the cutting disc or saw blade, the Court must determine the ordinary meaning of the terms. Porter-Cable does not appear to contest One World's definitions of these terms, as it provides no alternative definitions of its own. One World submits that the ordinary meaning of "adjacent" is "not distant: nearby" and the ordinary meaning of "emit" is "to throw or give off or out." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 14, 378 (10th ed. 1999). In its entirety then, the proper construction of the limitation at issue in claim four is a light source arranged to give off a ray or shaft of light of slender width near the cutting disc. Similarly, the Court construes the limitation in claim five as requiring a light source giving off a ray or shaft of light of slender width near the circular saw blade.

  c. Interrupted pattern of light

  Claims four, five, six, eleven, and twelve use the language "interrupted pattern of light" to describe the marking formed by the laser beam on the workpiece when the lower guard is in the closed position. One World construes these limitations as requiring a repetitively segmented projection of light. Rexon's proffered construction is a discontinuous line of light.

  One World and Rexon submit similar definitions for "interrupt." One World cites Webster's definition, which defines the term as "to break the uniformity or continuity of." Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 612 (10th ed. 1999). One World, however, does not explain how it derives "repetitively segmented" from this definition. Instead of focusing on the term's ordinary meaning, it cites for support language in other claims and the prosecution history that describe a series of spaced segments in the lower guard. Rexon's interpretation of the term as requiring a discontinuous line is truer to the ordinary meaning of "interrupted pattern of light." Moreover, nothing in the specification or prosecution history indicates that the inventor intended to use this term in a manner inconsistent with its ordinary meaning. As such, the Court adopts Rexon's construction of the limitation with respect to claims four, five, six, eleven, and twelve.

  d. Proximate the region of the cut

  One World and Rexon contest the meaning of "proximate" as used in claims four, five, and six. The pertinent section of claim four discloses:
[W]herein the lower guard is provided with a series of spaced apart segments formed in a portion of the guard interposed between the light source and the workpiece to be cut such that when the lower guard is in the closed position, the segments allow light to pass there through to form an interrupted pattern of light on the workpiece proximate the region of the cut.
Claims five and six contain language sufficiently similar to claim four that the following analysis applies equally to each.

  According to One World, "proximate the region of the cut" means at or very near the area of the cut. Rexon disagrees that the ordinary and customary meaning of "proximate" includes "at the area of the cut," and instead construes the claim language to mean next to or very near, but not in the region of the cut. Rexon additionally contends that "region of the cut," as used in claims four and five, is unamenable to construction and is therefore indefinite, rendering the claims invalid pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 112(2).

  The Court concurs with Rexon's interpretation of the term "proximate." One World has failed to provide a single dictionary definition of proximate that supports its contention that the ordinary meaning of proximate includes the exact point of reference. Merriam-Webster defines proximate as "very near: immediately adjoining: CLOSE" and "nearly accurate or correct." Webster's Third New International Dictionary of the English Language 1828 (unabr. ed. 1993). Thus, the ordinary meaning of proximate does not include the point of reference. Proximate should therefore be given its ordinary meaning, unless the specification or prosecution history indicates that the inventor intended otherwise. The specification explains that to align the workpiece, the laser beam should be "projected as close as possible to the point at which the saw blade 12 will cut the workpiece 18 so that markings corresponding to the desired location of cut on the workpiece 18 can be closely aligned with the laser beam 48." U.S. Patent No. 6,755,107, col. 5, lines 28-31. This excerpt from the specification supports the idea that the laser will be projected "close" to the location of the cut. In short, One World's interpretation of "proximate" is not supported by the intrinsic evidence.

  The inquiry does not end there, however, because Rexon contends that regardless of how one defines proximate, the limitation is unamenable to construction because one of ordinary skill would not be able to determine the scope of the phrase "region of the cut." Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 2, a patent applicant is required to conclude the specification by "particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as his invention." The Federal Circuit has construed this requirement to mean that a claim is indefinite if the language, when read in light of the specification, does not reasonably apprise one skilled in the relevant field of the scope of the invention. See Amgen Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 314 F.3d 1313, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2003). But this standard is a fairly difficult one to meet. A claim is not indefinite simply because its scope is unascertainable from the claim language itself. Rather, a claim is indefinite only if it is "insolubly ambiguous, and no narrowing construction can properly be adopted." Id. (quoting Exxon Research & Eng'g Co. v. United States, 265 F.3d 1371, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

  Though the phrase "region of the cut" is a less than stellar example of claim drafting, it is not so vague that one in the field would be unable to determine the scope of the claim, nor is it ambiguous to the point that a fact finder would be unable to logically determine whether an accused product infringes the patent. "Region" is defined as "an area or division." The New Oxford American Dictionary 1434 (2001). Thus, the ordinary meaning of the contested limitation requires that the segments allow light to pass through to form an interrupted pattern of light on the workpiece close to or very near the area of the cut. The entire purpose of the invention as described in the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.