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Fujitsu Limited v. Tellabs Operations

January 24, 2013

FUJITSU LIMITED, COUNTERCLAIMANT,
v.
TELLABS OPERATIONS, INC., TELLABS INC., AND TELLABS NORTH AMERICA, INC., COUNTERDEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. Holderman, Chief Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DENYING PARTIES' RESPECTIVE REQUESTS FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW AND DENYING FUJITSU LIMITED'S REQUEST FOR A NEW TRIAL REGARDING FUJITSU LIMITED'S '681 PATENT

Counterclaimant Fujitsu Limited alleged in this lawsuit that Tellabs Operations, Inc., Tellabs, Inc., and Tellabs North America, Inc. (collectively "Tellabs") infringed Claims 6, 7, and 8 of Fujitsu Limited's U.S. Patent No. 7,227,681 (the "'681 Patent") by making or selling Tellabs' Metro Input Amplifier Module (the "MIAM module") product. Tellabs in response asserted that the '681 Patent was invalid by reason of anticipation and obviousness. At the close of a nine-day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict on September 7, 2012 of non-infringement for each of the asserted claims, and upheld the'681 Patent as unanticipated and non-obvious.

Pending before the court are "Fujitsu's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law that Tellabs Infringes Claims 6, 7, and 8 of U.S. Patent No. 7,228,681, Notwithstanding the Jury Verdict of Non-Infringement; or, Alternatively Motion for a New Trial" (Case No. 09 C 4530, Dkt. No. 962) and "Tellabs, Inc.'s, Tellabs Operations, Inc.'s, and Tellabs North America, Inc.'s Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law that U.S. Patent No. 7,227,681 Is Invalid" (Case No. 08 C 3379, Dkt. No. 566). For the reasons that follow below, both motions are denied.

BACKGROUND

The '681 Patent issued on June 5, 2007, and is titled "Controller Which Controls a Variable Optical Attenuator to Control the Power Level of a Wavelength-Multiplexed Optical Signal When the Number of Channels Are Varied." ('681 Patent (Joint Ex. 2000) at (54).) Yasushi Sugaya and Susumu Kinoshita are the named inventors on the '681 Patent, and Fujitsu Limited is the assignee. ('681 Patent at (75), (73).)

The '681 Patent "relates to a fiber optic communication system which uses wavelength division multiplexing to transmit a wavelength-multiplexed optical signal." ('681 Patent, col. 1:33-35.) "Wavelength division multiplexing" is method of combining multiple channels of information having different individual wavelengths into one wavelength-multiplexed optical signal. (See generally '681 Patent, col. 1:44-65.) In fiber optic communication systems using wavelength division multiplexing, an optical amplifier is used "to amplify the wavelength-multiplexed optical signal traveling through [the] optical fiber." ('681 Patent, col. 1:66-67; col. 2:1-3.) This amplification or increase in power is known as "gain." (Case No. 08 C 3379, Dkt. No. 234 ("9/23/09 Tech. Tutorial Tr.") at 66:21-25; Case No. 08 C 3379, Dkt. No. 287 ("2/23/10 Tech. Tutorial Tr.") at 450:5-6.)

As this court explained in its September 29, 2011 claim construction opinion: The '681 Patent is directed to the ability to control the gain of the optical amplifier depending on the number of wavelength division multiplexed channels that are input into the amplifier. (2/23/10 Tech. Tutorial Tr. 466:22--25.) As the number of wavelength channels entering the amplifier from the network changes, the required gain also changes. (Id. at 470:11--24.) For example, if the number of channels entering the amplifier decreases, less gain is needed, and the amplifier would decrease the amount of pump power. (Id.)

Relatedly, each wavelength amplified in the optical amplifier receives a different amount of gain depending on the wavelength. (Id. at 472:3--473:16.) The '681 Patent discloses introducing a loss element, such as a filter, that would equalize the gain across the wavelengths. (Id.)

Fujitsu Ltd. v. Tellabs Operations, Inc., 821 F. Supp. 2d 1009, 1054 (N.D. Ill. 2011).

Fujitsu Limited asserted three claims of the '681 Patent at trial: Claim 6, Claim 7, and Claim 8. The asserted claims of the'681 Patent read as follows, with the court's claim interpretations of the italicized terms inserted in brackets:

6. An apparatus comprising: an optical amplifier which amplifies a wavelength division multiplexed (WDM) optical signal having a variable number of channels associated with different wavelengths [the number of channels can change and each channel is associated with a different wavelength] with a gain and outputs the amplified WDM optical signal, the optical amplifier including: an optical attenuator [a device having variable optical transmissivity] which controls a level of the amplified WDM optical signal, an optical filter making [which makes]*fn1 the gain substantially even [largely but not wholly even] with respect to said different wavelengths, and a controller which controls the gain the be approximately constant [nearly constant or constant].

7. An apparatus as in claim 6, wherein the controller controls the gain to be approximately constant [nearly constant or constant] during variation of the number of channels in the WDM optical signal [while the number of channels in the WDM optical signal changes].

8. An apparatus as in claim 6, wherein an attenuation level of the optical attenuator [a device having variable optical transmissivity] is changed to control a level of the amplified WDM optical signal.

As stated above, the accused device in this case is Tellabs' MIAM module product. Specifically, Fujitsu Limited alleged that Tellabs' MIAM module product is an apparatus comprising an "optical amplifier" as described in Claims 6, 7, and 8 of the '681 Patent. Relevant to the controller element of all three asserted claims, it is undisputed that the MIAM module product incorporates an optical gain block manufactured by a company named RED-C Optical ...


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