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Kathrein-Werke KG v. Radiacion Y Microondas S.A.

May 17, 2010

KATHREIN-WERKE KG, A GERMAN CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RADIACION Y MICROONDAS S.A., D/B/A RYMSA, A SPANISH COMPANY, AND RYMSA MICRO COMMUNICATIONS, INC., D/B/A RYMSA WIRELESS, A NEW HAMPSHIRE CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Ronald A. Guzman United States District Judge

Judge Ronald A. Guzmán

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Kathrein-Werke KG ("Kathrein") has sued Radiación y Microondas S.A. and RYMSA Micro Communications, Inc. (collectively "RYMSA") for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,850,130 ("the '130 Patent"), which describes a high-frequency phase shifter unit having a pivotable tapping element. The case is before the Court for construction of seven claim terms.*fn1

Facts

On July 27, 2000, Kathrein-Werke KG filed PCT patent application PCT/EP00/07236 for a high-frequency phase shifter unit having a pivotable tapping element on behalf of the inventors, Maximilian Gottl, Roland Gabriel and Mathias Markof. (See Pl.'s Claim Construction Br., Ex. B, '130 Patent ("'130 Patent") at 1.) On February 1, 2005, the application issued as U.S. Patent No. 6,850,130. (See id.)

Kathrein and RYMSA do not dispute the definitions of forty-two of the fifty claim terms. (See Defs.' Notice Undisputed Claim Terms, Ex. 1.) However, the parties ask the Court to construe the remaining eight disputed claim terms found in independent Claims 1, 22 and 24. (See '130 Patent, Claim 1, Col. 5, ll. 61-67 & Col. 6, ll. 1-19; id., Claim 22, Col. 7, ll. 38-41 & Col. 8, ll. 1-6; id., Claim 24, Col. 8, ll. 10-38; see also id., Claim 3, Col. 6, ll. 24-27; id., Claim 4, Col. 6, ll. 28-30; id., Claim 15, Col. 7, ll. 10-13; id., Claim 23, Col. 8, ll. 23-25.) The following terms are in dispute: (1) stripline sections; (2) tapping points; (3) pointer element; (4) extending; (5) transformers; (6) point element; (7) characteristic impedance; and (8) stripline elements. Independent Claim 1 of the '130 Patent claims: A radio-frequency phase shift assembly for coupling to a feed line, comprising: at least first and second stripline sections which are arranged concentrically, said at least first and second stripline sections for coupling to at least two different pairs of antenna radiating elements driven with different phase angles (k) at mutually offset tapping points,

a tapping element pivotable about a pivoting axis, the tapping element having a first tapping section for said first stripline section and having a second tapping section for said second stripline section, said first and second tapping sections being respectively pivotable over the associated first and second stripline sections and being coupled thereto,

at least first and second connection lines, the tapping element being connected to said feed line such that the feed line is electrically connected via the first and second connection lines to the first and second tapping sections associated with said first and second stripline sections,

wherein the tapping element comprises a pointer element which rotates about the pivoting axis, and

wherein the second connection line is disposed with respect to the second stripline section by extending the first connection line which leads to the first tapping section.

(Id., Claim 1, Col. 5, ll. 61-67 & Col. 6, ll. 1-19 (emphasis added).)

Dependent Claim 3 claims: "The phase shift assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second connection lines comprise transformers which share power in a predefined manner between the tapping sections of the at least first and second stripline sections." (Id., Claim 3, Col. 6, ll. 24-27 (emphasis added).) Dependent Claim 4 claims: "The phase shift assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tapping element comprises a radial point element originating from the pivoting axis." (Id., Claim 4, Col. 6, ll. 28-30 (emphasis added). Dependent Claim 15 claims: "The phase shift assembly as claimed in claim 1, wherein the at least first and second stripline sections each have a defined characteristic impedance." (Id., Claim 15, Col. 7, ll. 10-13 (emphasis added).)

Independent Claim 22 of the '130 Patent claims:

An RF phase shifter comprising: plural arcuate stripline elements of different lengths; and a pivotable radial tapping element capacitively coupled to tap each of said plural arcuate stripline elements simultaneously, said radial tapping element rotating about a pivoting axis, said radial tapping element dividing power unequally between said stripline elements in a predefined manner while simultaneously adjusting phase angle substantially equally in each of said plural arcuate stripline elements. (Id., Claim 22, Col. 7, ll. 38-41 & Col. 8, ll. 1-6 (emphasis added).) Dependent Claim 23 claims: "The phase shifter of claim 22 wherein the plural stripline elements each have first and second ends for connection to respective antenna radiating elements." (Id., Claim 23, Col. 8, ll. 23-25 (emphasis added).)

Independent Claim 24 of the '130 Patent claims:

A radio-frequency phase shift assembly coupled to a feedline, comprising: at least two stripline sections offset with respect to one another, at least two different pairs of antenna radiating elements coupled to the at least two stripline sections and driven with different phase angles (k) at mutually offset tapping points, a tapping element pivotable about a pivoting axis, the tapping element having a tapping section for each stripline section, the tapping sections being pivotable over the associated stripline section and being connected thereto, the tapping element connected to the feed line such that the feed line is electrically connected via a number of connection lines to the tapping sections which are associated with respective stripline sections, wherein the stripline sections are disposed in straight lines parallel to one another, the tapping element comprises a pointer element which rotates about the pivoting axis, and the respective connection line is disposed with respect to a next, further outward stripline section by extending an inward connection line which leads to a respective further inward tapping section. (Id., Claim 24, Col. 8, ll. 10-38 (emphasis added).)

Discussion

Claim construction is a question of law to be decided by a judge. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 391 (1996). To determine the meaning of disputed claim language, the Court begins with an examination of the intrinsic evidence, which consists of the patent claims, specification and prosecution history. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996).

When interpreting a patent claim term, courts "indulge a heavy presumption that a claim term carries its ordinary and customary meaning." CCS Fitness, Inc. v. Brunswick Corp., 288 F.3d 1359, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (quotation omitted). "[T]he ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention . . . ." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005). To determine the ordinary and customary meaning, the Court must first look to the intrinsic evidence, which includes the claims, specification and prosecution history. Id. at 1316-17. "An accused infringer may overcome this heavy presumption and narrow a claim term's ordinary meaning, but he cannot do so simply by pointing to the preferred embodiment or other structures or steps disclosed in the specification or prosecution history." CCS Fitness, 288 F.3d at 1366(quotation omitted). "[I]f an apparatus claim recites a general structure without limiting that structure to a specific subset of structures, we will generally construe the term to cover all known types of that structure that the patent disclosure supports." Id. (quotation omitted).

Extrinsic evidence may be used only if the Court cannot determine the meaning of the claims from the intrinsic evidence alone. Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1583. Although extrinsic evidence, such as dictionaries and expert reports, may be helpful, it is unlikely to lead to a reliable interpretation "unless considered in the context of the intrinsic evidence." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1319.

Again, the following terms are in dispute: (1) stripline sections; (2) tapping points; (3) pointer element and point element; (4) extending; (5) transformers; (6) characteristic impedance; and (7) ...


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