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Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp.

November 24, 2010

THE CHAMBERLAIN GROUP, INC. AND JOHNSON CONTROLS INTERIORS L.L.C., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LEAR CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

In 2005, patentee The Chamberlain Group, Inc. ("Chamberlain"), and its exclusive licensee Johnson Controls Interiors, L.L.C. ("JCI"), filed suit against Lear Corporation, alleging that Lear's Car2U® product infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6,154,544 and 6,810,123. Plaintiffs subsequently amended their complaint to allege that Lear also had infringed U.S. Patent No. 7,412,056. Following the close of discovery, the parties filed a number of dispositive motions. Lear seeks summary judgment as to its asserted noninfringement of the '544, '123, and '056 patents. (R. 406; R. 407.) Lear also requests summary judgment of invalidity of all three asserted patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (R. 637.) In addition to opposing the preceding motions, Chamberlain and JCI urge the Court to grant summary judgment in their favor as to Defendant's alleged infringement of all three patents. (R. 418; R. 428; R. 431.) Plaintiffs also move for summary judgment on Lear's invalidity defense that the asserted claims are directed to unpatentable subject matter. (R. 652.) Plaintiffs further seek summary judgment on Defendant's inequitable-conduct claim. (R. 665.) They also move for summary judgment on Defendant's invalidity defenses based on alleged lack of definiteness, enablement, and written description.

(R. 659.)

The Court rules as follows on these motions: Lear's motion for summary judgment as to its noninfringement of the '544 and '123 patents is granted in part and denied in part; Lear's summary-judgment motion of noninfringement of the '056 patent is denied; Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment of Lear's alleged infringement of the '544, '123, and '056 patents are denied; Lear's motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of the '544, '123, and '056 patents is denied; Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Lear's invalidity defense that the asserted claims are directed to unpatentable subject matter is granted; Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Lear's inequitable-conduct claim is granted in part and denied in part; and Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Lear's invalidity defenses based on alleged lack of definiteness, enablement, and written description is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

I. The Parties and the Lawsuit

Plaintiff, The Chamberlain Group, Inc., a manufacturer and purveyor of garage-door openers, is incorporated in Connecticut and has its principal place of business in Illinois. (R. 270 at ¶ 1; R. 410 at ¶ 2.) On November 28, 2000, Chamberlain acquired the rights to U.S. Patent No. 6,154,544 ("the '544 patent"), entitled "Rolling Code Security System." (R. 270 at ¶ 9.) Almost four years later, Chamberlain also acquired U.S. Patent No. 6,810,123 ("the '123 patent"), which bears the same title as the '544 patent. (R. 270 at ¶ 15.) The '544 and '123 patents disclose a remote-control, garage-door opening system, which includes a transmitter and a receiver. (R. 342 at ¶ 3.) The '544 and '123 patents are in the same patent family (the '123 patent is a continuation of the '544 patent) and the two share the same specification. (R. 410 at ¶ 9.) The similarity between the two patents led Chamberlain to file a "terminal disclaimer" to the '123 patent. (Id.)

On June 13, 2005, Chamberlain, owner of the '544 and '123 patents, sued Lear Corporation for infringement of those intellectual-property rights. (R. 410 at ¶ 5.) Lear is a manufacturer and seller of vehicle interior systems and components. (R. 342 at ¶ 1.) Chamberlain filed an Amended Complaint on October 5, 2005. (R. 43.) JCI, Chamberlain's exclusive licensee of the '544 and '123 patents, joined in the Amended Complaint as a named Plaintiff. (Id.) On August 19, 2008, Plaintiffs again amended their complaint to add a count of infringement of the subsequently issued U.S. Patent No. 7,412,056 ("the '056 patent"). (R. 270.) Chamberlain and JCI allege that Lear's transmitters, which are installed in automobiles made by OEM for actuating garage-door operators made by Chamberlain, infringe the '544, '123, and '056 patents. (Id.)

The allegedly infringing product is a universal transmitter used to open garage doors. (R. 434 at 26-27.) In opening those doors, the product's transmitter acts as a remote-control device that encrypts a coded signal each time the transmitter is actuated by the user and communicates that signal on a radio frequency carrier to the receiver, which is usually attached to a mechanical device that operates the garage door. Id. The receiver recognizes the coded signal sent from the transmitter, and then causes the mechanical device to operate the garage door. Id. The accused device is interoperable with Plaintiffs' garage-opening product, which incorporates the allegedly infringed patented technology. (R. 410-6 at 12; R. 455 at 14.)

II. The District Court's Grant of a Preliminary Injunction and Defendant's Successful Appeal to the Federal Circuit

Having held a Markman hearing, the district court*fn1 entered a claim-construction order in which it defined "binary code" as a "code in which each code element may be either of two distinct kinds of values, which code may represent various kinds of letters and numbers including, but not limited to, a representation of a base 2 number." (R. 148 at 8.) Construing "binary code" to encompass more than a binary number, the district court rejected Lear's proposed construction of "binary code generator." (Id. at 8-9.) Judge Moran reached the same conclusion with respect to "trinary code generator," observing that the claims did not limit the initial binary code to a binary number, but instead left "the term open to encompass other numerical and character languages, including trinary code." (Id. at 9.)

Shortly thereafter, the district court issued a preliminary injunction in Plaintiffs' favor. (R. 166.) Defendant contended that its Car2U® product used only trinary numbers and algorithms, and Plaintiffs argued that the distinction was irrelevant because the Car2U® device relied on binary language to communicate trinary numbers.*fn2 Since Defendant conceded (as it had to) that the trinary numbers used by its Car2U® product were necessarily represented by 0s and 1s in the product's computer, the district court held that the accused product's "binary-coded trinary numbers" necessarily use binary code, and so the Car2U® product would likely fall within the '544's "binary-code" limitation. Id. This ruling formed the basis of the district court's decision preliminarily to enjoin Defendant.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and reversed the claim construction on which the district court had relied. The Chamberlain Group, Inc., et al. v. Lear Corp., 516 F.3d 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2008). Judge Rader for the panel noted that, "for the district court, Lear's 'binary-coded trinary numbers' were binary code, not trinary code." Id. at 1336. Examining the '544 patent's specification, the Federal Circuit found that the disclosure restricts the term "binary code" to a narrower meaning than the ordinary or customary reading of the term. Id. at 1337. The Federal Circuit construed "code" as it is used in the claims and concluded that "the '544 patent's term 'trinary code' is relevant to construing 'binary code' because the term 'code' presumptively should carry the same meaning throughout the patent." Id. at 1337. Specifically, the Federal Circuit agreed with Lear that the '544 patent uses the term "binary code" "to represent the meaning of the message," or content, and "not its mere form." Id. In other words, the '544 limits "binary code" to binary, or base 2, numbers and "trinary code" to trinary, or base 3, numbers, even though the trinary numbers may be still expressed in the binary "0s and 1s" language of the transmitter's microcontroller. Id. at 1139.

Observing that its reversal of the district court's claim construction "fundamentally influence[d] the likelihood of success in proving infringement," the Federal Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction. Id. at 1340.

III. Post-Remand Developments

On remand, Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Federal Circuit's construction made it impossible for Plaintiffs to prove infringement of the '544 and '123 patents.

(R. 236.) The district court ordered discovery to close on August 15, 2008, and entered a briefing schedule. (R. 258.) Two days before discovery was scheduled to close, Plaintiffs sought leave to file a second amended complaint, adding a new patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,412,056, which issued just one day earlier. (R. 260.) On December 8, 2008, Defendant filed its second motion for summary judgment, arguing noninfringement of the '056 patent. (R. 293.) On April 9, 2009, the Executive Committee reassigned the case to this Court. (R. 315.)

On April 16, 2009, the Court denied Lear's motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of the '544, '123, and '056 patents as premature. On July 9, 2009, the Court stayed the case after Lear filed for bankruptcy. (R. 359.) The parties conducted further discovery and, on March 18, 2010, Lear filed renewed motions for summary judgment as to its noninfringement of the three asserted patents. (R. 406; R. 407.) Plaintiffs then filed their own motions for summary judgment of infringement. (R. 418; R. 428; R. 431.)

In addition to ruling upon these cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court now addresses several other motions that are presently before it. These are: Lear's motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of the three asserted patents (R. 637); Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Lear's invalidity defense that the asserted claims are directed to unpatentable subject matter (R. 652); Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Lear's invalidity defenses based on alleged lack of definiteness, enablement, and written description(R. 659); and Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on Defendant's inequitable-conduct claim (R. 665).

SUMMARY-JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). A genuine issue of material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In determining summary-judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). After "a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (quotation omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2) (requiring adverse party to "set out specific facts").

"[I]nfringement must be shown literally or equivalently for each limitation; general assertions of facts, general denials, and conclusory statements are insufficient to shoulder the non-movant's burden." TechSearch, L.L.C. v. Intel Corp., 286 F.3d 1360, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (citations omitted). "Thus, the party opposing the motion for summary judgment of noninfringment must point to an evidentiary conflict created on the record, at least by a counter-statement of a fact set forth in detail in an affidavit by a knowledgeable affiant. Mere denials or conclusory statements are insufficient." Id. at 1372 (citations omitted).

ANALYSIS

I. The '544 and '123 Patents

Lear has moved for summary judgment of noninfringement of the '544 and '123 patents, contending that the Federal Circuit's 2008 opinion in this case, in conjunction with undisputed facts in the record, reveals that its Car2U® product does not use binary numbers. (R. 407; R. 409.) Since the asserted claims in the '544 and '123 patents literally require the presence of those numbers-as all parties to this case agree-Lear contends that the absence of binary code in the allegedly infringing device entitles it to summary judgment as a matter of law. Lear, having failed to obtain a license from Chamberlain to practice the claimed invention, argues that it successfully invented around the '544 and '123 patents, thus allowing it to market a substitutable product that evades the zone of exclusivity inherent in those patent rights. (R. 410 at ¶ 62.)

In its response to Lear's motion, JCI devotes considerable time challenging Defendant's efforts to design around the claims underlying those patents. (R. 422 at 4-5.) Far from being a source of consternation, however, inventing around a patented technology is highly desirable from both an intellectual-property and public-policy perspective. See, e.g., WMS Gaming, Inc. v. Int'l Game Tech., 184 F.3d 1339,1355 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (noting that "the patent law encourages competitors to design or invent around existing patents"); State Indus., Inc. v. A.O. Smith Corp.,, 1236 (Fed. Cir. 1985) ("One of the benefits of a patent system is its so-called 'negative incentive' to 'design around' a competitor's products, even when they are patented, thus bringing a steady flow of innovations to the marketplace."). The question before the Court, of course, is whether, viewing all facts in favor of the nonmoving party, Lear succeeded in its design-around efforts. Answering that question requires the Court to determine whether a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Lear's Car2U® product uses binary numbers, a binary-code generator, or a trinary-code generator for generating a three-valued or trinary code responsive to the variable binary code. If no reasonable jury could find that Defendant's Car2U® product operates in such a manner, Lear is entitled to summary judgment as to the '544 and '123 patents. See, e.g., Vita-Mix Corp. v. Basic Holding, Inc., 581 F.3d 1317, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242 (1986)). In light of the claim construction adopted by the Federal Circuit, a genuine issue of fact exists that Defendant's Car2U® product literally generates, uses, or otherwise employs binary numbers. Lear is therefore not entitled to summary judgment of literal noninfringement of the '544 and '123 patents on that ground. Furthermore, there is a genuine issue of fact as to whether the accused device infringes those patents under the doctrine of equivalents. Lear is entitled to summary judgment, however, of literal noninfringement of the '544 patent and claim 17 of the '123 patent because the Court construes "binary code generator" to require the fact of storage. This result follows because there is no genuine issue that the accused product does not store binary numbers.

A. The Federal Circuit's Claim Construction Controls

A preliminary issue concerns the impact of the Federal Circuit's 2008 ruling. Plaintiff JCI contends that "the Federal Circuit wiped the slate clean on claim construction and gave the parties a blank slate on which to move forward." (R. 422 at 6.) Plaintiff Chamberlain similarly argues that the appellate court's ruling was merely preliminary, such that this Court can and should revisit the relevant claim construction. (R. 432 at 4, 16-18.) Specifically, Chamberlain contends that the Federal Circuit's construction of relevant claim terms-including that "code" is synonymous with "number" due to the effect of the '544 patent's specification in giving particular limited meanings to the language in the claims-was qualified by a footnote in the court's opinion. (Id. at 16 (quoting Chamberlain, 516 F.3d at 1340 n.2).) This footnote observed that "Chamberlain did not identify even any expert reports or testimony in support of its particular claim meaning theory." Id.

A full reading of the Federal Circuit's opinion, however, reveals that the court's construction was premised on Chamberlain's lack of expert reports. The appellate court went to some length to explain how the disputed claim terms, when read together and in light of the specification, compel the conclusion that, for the purpose of the '544 patent, "code" is synonymous with "number" and "binary code" represents "the meaning of the message." Chamberlain, 516 F.3d. at 1335. The Federal Circuit's construction remains invariant in the face of Chamberlain's proffered expert reports, and, as previously noted, it is the "law of the case."

(R. 319 at 4.)

This conclusion holds despite the case law relied on by Chamberlain. (R. 432 at 16 (quoting SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., 594 F.3d 1360, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2010); CVI/Beta Ventures, Inc. v. Tura L.P., 112 F.3d 1146, 1160 n.7 (Fed. Cir. 1997)).) Neither decision establishes that the Court is free, or ought, to disregard the Federal Circuit's prior claim construction. Both Montgomery Ward and Marchon Eyewear involved situations in which the Federal Circuit had to determine how it, as an appellate court, should receive a claim construction tendered by a district court on the basis of an incomplete factual record. Montgomery Ward, 594 F.3d at 1360, passim; CVI, 112 F.3d at 1146, passim.Neither case speaks to a situation in which a lower court, in light of a more complete record, is asked to jettison a prior claim construction adopted by the Federal Circuit. It further bears noting that, in the present case, the district court already had held a Markman hearing by the time the Federal Circuit determined the appropriate claim construction. (R. 148 at 1.) The Federal Circuit was not asked to ascertain the meaning of disputed claim terms in the presence of an impoverished factual record.

In continuing to abide by the Federal Circuit's claim construction in the face of a subsequent and contrary opinion proffered by Chamberlain's expert witness, Dr. Rhyne, this Court also notes the appellate court's earlier proclamation that "[i]ntrinsic evidence, that is the claims, written description, and the prosecution history of the patent, is a more reliable guide to the meaning of a claim term than are extrinsic sources like technical dictionaries, treatises, and expert testimony." Chamberlain, 516 F.3d at 1335. Given the Federal Circuit's careful exposition as to why its construction followed from such intrinsic sources as the claims and written description, the dearth of relevant case law relied upon by Chamberlain, and the fact that the relevant aspects of Dr. Rhyne's report would not persuade the Court to rule otherwise, the Federal Circuit's claim construction holds.

The Court therefore denies Chamberlain's cross-motion for summary judgment of infringement of the '544 and '123 patents, which is premised on the adoption of Chamberlain's proposed claim construction over that previously found by the Federal Circuit. (R. 432 at 16-18; R. 491 at 4-8.)

B. JCI's Contention That Lear's Product Infringes The '544 And '123 Patents Because It Performs The Same Function As Plaintiffs' Patented Product Fails

Plaintiff JCI's first substantive argument is that "Lear performs the method disclosed in the Chamberlain patents, not because it wants to, but because it needs to.... For Lear to have a commercially viable product... [its] garage door opener must be capable of opening... Chamberlain's garage door openers." R. 422 at 5 (emphasis in original). JCI thus claims that Lear's Car2U® product must infringe the '544 and '123 patents because there is no other way to "open Chamberlain garage door openers" but "to use the patented Chamberlain security algorithm or its equivalent." Id. at 5; see also id. at 7-9. This assertion is a non-starter, for it is well established that mere functional equivalence does not render an accused product or process infringing. See Chiuminatta Concrete Concepts v. Cardinal Indus., Inc., 145 F.3d 1303, 1309-10 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Put differently, the fact of interoperability does not require mathematical identity in all material respects, such that an accused device necessarily infringes a patented product or process that achieves precisely the same result. Instead, the fact of infringement must be determined by reference to the claims in the patent. See Zenith Lab, Inc. v. Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co., 19 F.3d 1418, 1423 (Fed. Cir. 1994). This is not to say, of course, that interchangeability is irrelevant to the infringement analysis-it may be quite pertinent in assessing validity under the doctrine of equivalents. See, e.g., Fiskars, Inc. v. Hunt Mfg. Co., 221 F.3d 1318, 1324 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (observing that "[i]nterchangeability is indeed relevant to equivalency"). Nevertheless, the Federal Circuit has made clear that "interchangeability... is certainly not dispositive." Cardinal Industries, 145 F.3d at 1309.

JCI next contends that Lear's Car2U® product "must produce a trinary number that corresponds to the value of a mirrored (reversed) binary number." R. 422 at 8 (emphasis in original). Looking to the Federal Circuit's claim construction, which emphasized that "trinary code is still trinary code when expressed as a trinary number represented by (base 2) bit pairs, using 0s and 1s," it does not follow that Lear's production of a trinary number that corresponds to the value of a mirrored binary number necessarily constitutes the use of a "binary number." Chamberlain, 516 F.3d at 1339. There is no reason to infer that mere correspondence is enough. Furthermore, Plaintiff Chamberlain's own expert, Dr. Rhyne, testified at his deposition that Lear's software "stores both the rolling code value and the mirrored rolling code value in what the Federal Circuit calls trinary." (R. 410-2 at 48.)

C. There Is No Genuine Issue Concerning the Fact that Lear's Car2U® Product Does Not Literally Use "Binary Code" as the Federal Circuit Has Construed that Claim

1. The '544 and '123 Patents Require the Generation or Use of Binary Codes

The Court now turns to the crux of the parties' dispute: whether a genuine issue of fact exists as to whether the accused device uses "binary code." The parties do not dispute that the absence of binary code, either literally or equivalently, within the accused product would necessitate a finding of noninfringement as to the '544 and '123 patents. Accord R. 432-1 at 6 ("[T]he sole infringement dispute is whether the Lear transmitter generates a binary code on which the trinary code is based.").

As highlighted in italics, each asserted claim requires the presence or use of binary code. Of course, it is black-letter law that the absence of a patented claim in the accused device is fatal to any contention of literal infringement. See Research Plastics, Inc. v. Fed. Packaging Corp., 421 F.3d 1290, 1297 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

Claim 1 of the '544 patent claims as follows:

A transmitter for sending an encrypted signal to control an actuator, comprising:

[1] oscillator for generating a radio frequency oscillatory signal;

[2] apparatus for enabling the sending on an encrypted signal;

[3] binary code generator responsive to the enabling apparatus for generating a variable binary code, said variable code being different for each enabling by the enabling device;

[4] trinary code generator for generating a three-valued or trinary code responsive to the variable binary code; and

[5] transmitting apparatus for modulating the radio frequency oscillatory signal with the trinary code to produce a modulated trinary coded variable radio frequency signal for operation or control of a secure actuator.

(R. 270-2 at 27) (emphasis added).

Claim 1 of the '123 patent reads as follows: A transmitter comprising:

[1] an oscillator for generating radio frequency oscillatory signal;

[2] a source of a sequence of binary codes, successive binary codes in the sequence being different from predetermined preceding codes in the sequence;

[3] trinary code generator for converting said sequence of binary codes to a sequence of trinary codes; and

[4] a transmitting apparatus for modulating the radio frequency oscillatory signal with the binary codes to produce a modulated trinary coded radio frequency signal.

(R. 270-2 at 51) (emphasis added).

Finally, Claim 17 of the '123 patent claims: A transmitter for authorizing access to a secure area by a control actuator receiver, comprising:

[1] an oscillator for generating a radio frequency oscillatory signal;

[2] a binary code generator for generating a sequence of binary codes, predetermined ones of the binary codes being different from others of the binary codes of the sequence;

[3] a trinary code generator responsive to the binary codes for generating three-valued or trinary codes; and

[4] a transmitting apparatus for modulating the radio frequency oscillatory signal with the trinary codes to transmit a modulated trinary coded radio frequency signal to the control actuator receiver.

(R. 270-2 at 51) (emphasis added).

2. The Parties Dispute Whether Lear's Car2U® Product Uses Binary Code

The principal dispute concerns the question whether Lear's Car2U® product operates using purely trinary numbers, as its designers apparently sought to achieve. (R. 434 at 54-55; R. 410 at 21, ¶ 62.) Defendant's expert, Dr. Schonfeld, contends that "the securePlus module operates exclusively on trinary numbers and performs only trinary operations." (R. 410-7 at 13, ¶ 30.) He submits that "the Lear Car2U product uses and operates only on trinary numbers" and thus that the device "is neither responsive to nor does it convert "binary codes." (Id. at 16, ¶ 36.)

Dr. Schonfeld's conclusions are bolstered by a number of meaningful concessions by Plaintiffs' experts. First, Chamberlain's expert, Dr. Rhyne, admitted in his deposition that Lear's code "stores both the rolling code value and the mirrored rolling code value in what the Federal Circuit calls trinary." (R. 410-2 at 48.) He also opined that the "fixed code" is stored as a trinary number in Lear's software. (Id.). Similarly, Chamberlain's expert, Mr. Cole, agreed in his deposition that "both the variable and fixed code[s] are trinary numbers in Lear's system."

(R. 410-8 at 6; see also id. at 10.) Lear argues that these admissions, read in light of the Federal Circuit's claim construction and in conjunction with Dr. Schonfeld's report, necessitate an entry of summary judgment in its favor as to noninfringement of the '544 and '123 patents. (R. 409 at 12-18; R. 455 at 5-13.)

Plaintiffs dispute this assessment. They do not seek to counter the fact, well established in the record, that Lear's Car2U® product uses trinary numbers. (R. 410-7 at 2-112; R. 410-2 at 48; R. 410-8 at 6, 10.) Instead, they challenge whether the allegedly infringing product operates using exclusively trinary code. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that the operation of the "CompareTernary function" in the accused product entails the employment of a binary number.

(R. 422 at 10-18; R. 432 at 9-11.) Plaintiffs assert that this function employs the subtraction method for binary conversion. (R. 422 at 11.) To this end, Plaintiffs proffer the expert reports of Mr. Cole and Dr. Stevenson.

Mr. Cole opines that the "Lear microcontroller performs the steps to convert a trinary number to a binary number" and asserts that the "microcontroller memory uses binary values (high and low bit), which represent 0 and 1." (R. 410-6 at 13, 15, ¶¶ 40, 47.) He finds binary numbers in the "special function register Status Z-bit[, which] fluctuates between 0 and 1 depending on whether a component power of 2 has been found in the counter. When a component power of 2 is not found, the value of this bit is 1. When the component power of 2 is found, the value of this bit is zero." (Id. at 25, ¶ 89.) He thus concludes that, "[r]ead sequentially, these Z-bit values constitute... a binary number." (Id. at ¶ 90.)

Professor Stevenson similarly explains that, although he does "not dispute that Compare Ternary () eventually returns a trinary number, it is [his] opinion that there is a 'binary code generator.' It is the comparison of the return value of CompareTernary () to 0 inside the if () statement when run 31 times through the for () loop in Step 3 of the SecurityPlus () function. This comparison determines bit by bit whether the power of two in a binary number is present or absent." (R. 410-4 at 109.)

Plaintiff JCI summarizes the relevant process as follows:  Each time a button on the garage door opener is pressed, the SecurityPlus() function increments the value of the variable code, button.data.chamberlain_sync[], by 3.  Using the newly incremented value, a "for() loop" is executed.  This "for() loop" runs 31 times, once for each of the 31 powers of two that the variable code could contain.  Each time through the "for() loop," a comparison of the CompareTernary() function is made to the number 0 (this happens inside the "if()" statement); the internal comparison checks whether the variable code value contains that specific power of two.  In other words, the first time through the "for() loop," the code checks whether the value of the variable code is greater than or equal to 231, (which is 2 raised to the thirty-first power), and if so, subtracts 231 from the variable code value to create a new temporary value Temp_Copy_K[], the second time through the loop the code checks whether the value of the variable code is greater than or equal to 230, the third time through the loop the code checks whether the value is greater than 229, etc.  The resulting sequence of the outputs from the 31 comparisons made inside the "if()" statements is, in Dr. Stevenson's opinion, a binary number, because it is verbatim to the binary number that represents the quantity of the variable code.

(R. 422 at 11) (internal citations omitted) (emphasis in original).

3. Expert Disagreement Is Not Necessarily Enough In Itself to Preclude Summary Judgment

Plaintiffs' principal contention is that, because the plaintiff- and defense-side experts in the present case reach diametrically opposed conclusions as to whether Lear's Car2U® product generates or otherwise employs a binary number, summary judgment is categorically improper.

(R. 422 at 10; R. 432 at 4-11.) It is indeed true that a "battle of the experts" can preclude summary judgment. See, e.g., Hot Wax, Inc. v. Turtle Wax, Inc., 27 F. Supp. 2d 1043, 1048 (N.D. Ill. 1998). Nevertheless, not every contention asserted by an expert will suffice to create a genuine issue of material fact to defeat summary judgment. Gratuitous assertions, for example, which are devoid of substantive explanation and analysis, need not be credited. See, e.g., Telemac Cellular Corp. v. Topp Telecom, Inc., 247 F.3d 1316, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2001) ("Broad conclusory statements offered by... experts are not evidence and are not sufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact."); Moore U.S.A., Inc. v. Standard Register Co., 229 F.3d 1091, 1112 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Similarly, expert contentions that cannot be squared with applicable claim construction, as passed upon in this case by the Federal Circuit, will not create a genuine issue of material fact. Accord Southwall Techs., Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1578 (Fed. Cir. 1995) ("Claim interpretation, as a question of pure law, is amenable to summary judgment and disagreement over the meaning of a term within a claim does not ...


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