The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
As the end result of the Markman hearing in this litigation brought by Celsis In Vitro, Inc. ("Celsis") against alleged infringers CellzDirect, Inc. and Invitrogen Corporation (collectively referred to here as "LTC," treated as a singular noun*fn1 ) of Celsis' United States Patent No. 7,604,929 (the "'929 Patent"), four terms remain in dispute between the litigants for definition by this Court. Those terms have been addressed in LTC's prehearing and posthearing submissions (respectively Dkt. Nos. 140 and 209) and by Celsis' prehearing and posthearing submissions (respectively Dkt. Nos. 173 and 210).
At the outset something should be said about the wholly artificial nature of LTC's approach to the issues. It is of course quite true that the subject matter and hence the terminology involved are highly technical in nature, but that does not mean that the approach to construing the language in dispute, which is after all in the English language, must be as artificial as the constructs proposed by LTC.
It is too often the case in patent litigation that the adversaries' competing contentions can resemble theological disputations akin to the classic debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In such circumstances it frequently pays to take the figurative step backward to survey the scene and reach a common-sense resolution of the issues.
That is certainly true, for example, of the first issue on which the litigants cross analytical swords -- the meaning of "after the final thaw" in the '929 Patent's Claim 1*fn2 at Col. 19:61. For a full understanding of the issue, those words must be placed in context, so here are lines 57 through 61:
A method of producing a desired preparation of multi-cryopreserved hepatocytes, said hepatocytes, being capable of being frozen and thawed at least two times, and in which greater than 70% of the hepatocytes of said preparation are viable after the final thaw. . . .
LTC urges that the earlier-quoted phrase "after the final thaw" must be construed to mean "several hours after the hepatocytes preparation is thawed for the last time" (Dkt. 140 § XIII at 20-21 and Dkt. 209 § I at 3-5), while Celsis rejects that "several hours" approach in favor of "a reasonable time period after thawing the hepatocytes."
Celsis has the better of the argument. "Viability" as a concept clearly connotes something other than evanescence, but to inject the kind of temporal notion for which LTC contends is uncalled for. Here the method taught by the '929 Patent is intended to produce a result that is usable for the purpose for which particular hepatocytes are needed, and that is best reflected by the concept of "reasonableness" advanced by Celsis. That is a matter that can be dealt with at trial, based on the evidence that has been placed before the trier of fact -- and the law looks to juries every day to make determinations of reasonableness in the context of the cases before them.
Next the litigants dispute the construction to be given to the word "plated" as it appears at '929 Patent Col. 20:16-20: wherein the hepatocytes are not plated between and the first and second cryopreservations, and wherein greater than 70% of the hepatocytes of said preparation are viable after the final thaw.
Here too LTC would render that term essentially meaningless in context by failing to attach it (bad pun intended) to the idea embodied in the invention.
As LTC would have it, the disavowal of the need for plating is totally without a purpose related to the invention itself -- it would simply mean "placed in a container having a surface coated with any extracellular matrix protein, such as collagen" (Dkt. No. 140 § V at 13-17 and Dkt. No. 209 § II at 5-6). But that turns matters on their head, because it ignores the fact that the '929 Patent teaches that its method is performable without rather than with plating.
By contrast with LTC's proposal that finds no anchor in reality, Celsis' construction gives the term "plated" its normal meaning and purpose: "to have placed hepatocytes on a plate containing attachments substrates (e.g., collagen or extra-cellular matrix proteins) for the purpose of allowing the viable hepatocytes to attach to the plate" (Dkt. No. 172 § D at 19-20). That version explains that the customary function of plating -- the provision of a surface to which the viable hepatocytes can attach -- is not needed to practice the method taught by the '929 Patent.
So LTC is a loser on this second term as well.
Third among the four issues singled out for construction is the phrase "between the first and second cryopreservations" found in the language quoted earlier from '929 Patent Col. 20:16-20. True to form, LTC's counsel proffer a proposed construction that is wholly artificial, divorced ...