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Easypower Corp. v. Alden Corp.

November 21, 2007

EASYPOWER CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALDEN CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant Alden Corporation ("Alden") asserts that Plaintiff Easypower Corporation ("Easypower") has infringed two of Alden's patents: U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,595,730 and 6,742,416 ('730 and '416 respectively, "Patents" collectively). After a Markman hearing, this Court construed five disputed claim terms contained in the Patents. Before the Court is the motion by Alden for reconsideration of the Court's claim construction No. 5, construing the term "acute angle relative to the axis." For the reasons stated below, this motion is denied.

I. MARKMAN HEARING

The disputed claim term, "acute angle relative to the axis," is used in Claims '416:1, 5, 8, 10, 16 and 22. At the Markman hearing and in its claim construction briefs, Alden's proposed construction for this phrase was "an angle of less than 90 degrees between the scraping edge and the axis of the bit when viewed along a line perpendicular to the axis and the edge, whether the edge and axis intersect or not." Easypower's proposed construction was "an angle of less than 90 degrees, but the combined angle of two scraping edges (relative to the axis) is obtuse." The parties disputed whether the combined angle of two scraping edges must be obtuse. After an analysis of the claim language, specifications, and the parties' arguments, the Court construed this term to mean: an angle of less than 90 degrees between the scraping edge and the axis of the bit when viewed along a line perpendicular to the axis and the edge, whether the edge and axis intersect or not. If there are two scraping edges, the combined angles relative to the axis are greater than 90 degrees. If there are more than two scraping edges, the combined angles relative to the axis of each set of two angles are greater than 90 degrees.

Easypower Corp. v. Alden Corp., 509 F. Supp. 2d 737, 752 (2007) ("Easypower I").

In its motion for reconsideration, Alden requests this Court withdraw the last two sentences of the construction on the following grounds: "1) no basis exists in the patent specification for importing the term 'obtuse' into the claims; 2) no basis exists in the patent specifications to give the terms 'obtuse' and 'angle' anything other than their ordinary and customary meanings." Def. Mot. at 1. Easypower objects to this motion, asserting that Alden has failed to demonstrate any error of law committed by the Court in its claim construction, and that Alden merely re-presents arguments advanced at the Markman hearing.

II. MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

Motions for reconsideration serve a narrow purpose and must be supported by a showing of extraordinary circumstances. Trading Technologies Int'l. v. Refco Group Ltd., 2007 WL 611258 (N.D. Ill. 2007). In general, motions to reconsider are rarely granted and are "only appropriate to correct manifest errors of law or to present newly discovered evidence." The Chamberlain Group, Inc. et al. v. Lear Corp., 2007 WL 551579 (N.D. Ill. 2007); Qto v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir. 2000); Trading Technologies, 2007 WL 611258. A party cannot use a motion for reconsideration "to introduce evidence previously available," "to tender new legal theories," or to "rehash old arguments." Mahurkar v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 2003 WL 22844237 (N.D. Ill. 2003). The Court will review the claim construction disputed by Alden only for any manifest errors of law or fact. Id.

Alden argues that Easypower never contemplated to include the obtuse angle limitation to bits having more than two edges, and the Court has committed error by importing this limitation into all of the claims. Alden also argues this Court erred in its definition of the term "obtuse." Finally, Alden asserts that it did not have an opportunity to be heard on the adopted construction.

A. The Court did not Err by Importing a Limitation of the Term "Obtuse" into the Claims

Alden argues this Court erred by applying the obtuse angle limitation to the invention as a whole, asserting that the Court has improperly read "a limitation from the written description into the claims." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Alden asserts Easypower never intended in its construction to apply the obtuse angle limitation to bits having more than two edges. Alden also alleges the specifications lack "words or expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction" required for the proper importation of this limitation into the claims. Innova/Pure Water Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Systems, Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1117 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

1. The Obtuse Angle Limitation Applies to the Invention as a Whole

After hearing arguments from both Alden and Easypower on this claim term, this Court acknowledged, at both the hearing and in its order, the concern with importing a limitation from the specification into the claim. Recognizing this "fine line," the Court found the patent described "the invention," not just a particular embodiment or claim, as having edges that meet in an obtuse angle. The Court still agrees with its finding today.

Statements describing the invention as a whole are more likely to support a limiting definition of a claim term than statements that describe only preferred embodiments. C.R. Bard, Inc. v. U.S. Surgical Corp., 388 F.3d 858, 864 (Fed. Cir. 2004). If a specification describes specific embodiments of the invention, a court should not confine the claims to those embodiments. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1323. If the patentee describes "the invention" in the specification, however, "as opposed to describing a particular embodiment, it is appropriate to construe the claim terms consistent with the patentee's description." Easypower I, 509 F. Supp. 2d at 741; Honeywell Int'l. Inc. v. ITT Industries, Inc., 452 F.3d 1312, 1318 (Fed. Cir. 2006). The Court acknowledged in its claim construction order the "fine line" that exists "between properly construing the claim terms in light of the specification and improperly importing limitations ...


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