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Baxter International, Inc. v. Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 5, 2015



JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Baxter International, Inc., Baxter Healthcare Corp., and Baxter Healthcare S.A. ("Baxter") have sued Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc. d/b/a Fresenius Medical Care North America and Fresenius USA, Inc. ("Fresenius") alleging infringement of four patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 815, 595 ("the '595 patent"); 8, 066, 671 ("the '671 patent"); 8, 075, 526 ("the '526 patent"); and 8, 206, 338 ("the '338 patent"). This case is before the Court for the construction of four groups of claim terms.


The four patents-in-suit relate to "a disposable cassette-based pumping mechanism for a peritoneal dialysis machine." Defs.' Opening Claim Construction Br. 1 ("Defs.' Br."). Peritoneal dialysis is a process to treat renal failure by pumping a solution, dialystate, into the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen. Pls.' Resp. Claim Construction Br. 2 ("Pls.' Br."). Waste from the body enters the dialystate and leaves the body when the dialystate is drained. Id. Automated peritoneal dialysis ("APD") machines can perform the pumping and draining of dialystate without any input from the patient, thereby freeing the patient to sleep through the process. Id.

The '595, '671, and '526 patents share a common specification and are related to a common parent application filed on May 24, 2002. Pls.' Br. 3; Defs.' Br. 1. The '338 patent relates to a different parent application, filed December 31, 2002, and shares one common inventor with the other three patents. Pls.' Br. 2; Defs.' Br. 1.

The '595, '671, and '526 patents describe a disposable cassette with two opposing membranes. Defs.' Br. 1. The disposable cassette is placed into the dialysis machine, which applies a vacuum to the membranes. Id. at 2. This causes one membrane to be held against the wall of the dialysis machine while the other membrane is held against a piston, creating a chamber between the two membranes. Id. When the piston moves, one membrane is manipulated so as to increase or decrease the volume of the chamber, which acts to pump the dialystate in or out of the chamber. Id.

The '338 patent involves a similar disposable cassette. Id. But in this instance one membrane is held against the moving piston, while the other is replaced by a rigid wall. Id.

Legal Standard

Interpretation of patent claims is a question of law to be decided by a judge, not a jury. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 391 (1996). The Court first looks to the intrinsic evidence, which consists of the patent itself, including claims, the specification, and prosecution history. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996). The words of a claim "are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning." Id. Ordinary and customary meaning is that understood by "a person having ordinary skill in the art in question on the effective filing date of the patent application." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (Fed. Cir. 2005) ( en banc ). However, the "patentee may choose to be his own lexicographer and use terms in a manner other than their ordinary meaning, as long as the special definition of the term is clearly stated in the patent specification or file history." Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582.

Terms are given "the meaning and scope with which they are used in the specification and the prosecution history." Kinik Co. v. ITC, 362 F.3d 1359, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2004). The specification is usually "dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term." Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582.

The prosecution history may serve to further "exclude any interpretation that was disclaimed during prosecution." Chimie v. PPG Indus., Inc., 402 F.3d 1371, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2005). However, a claim may not be narrowed "simply by pointing to the preferred embodiment or other structures or steps disclosed in the specification or prosecution history." CCS Fitness, Inc. v. Brunswick Corp., 288 F.3d 1359, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2002). It is well established that "it is improper to read limitations from a preferred embodiment described in the specification-even if it is the only embodiment-into the claims absent a clear indication in the intrinsic record that the patentee intended the claims to be so limited." Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber, 674 F.3d 1315, 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (quoting Enzo Biochem, Inc. v. Applera Corp., 599 F.3d 1325, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2010)). "[A] particular embodiment appearing in the written description may not be read into a claim when the claim language is broader than the embodiment." SuperGuide Corp. v. DirecTV Enters., Inc., 358 F.3d 870, 875 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

Beyond the intrinsic evidence, extrinsic evidence such as expert testimony, dictionaries, and treatises "may be helpful to explain scientific principles, the meaning of technical terms, and terms of art that appear in the patent and prosecution history." Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 980 (Fed. Cir. 1995). However, extrinsic evidence may be used only if the intrinsic evidence alone is insufficient to determine the meaning of the claim terms. Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1583.

Finally, the doctrine of "claim differentiation" provides that "each claim in a patent is presumptively different in scope." RF Del., Inc. v. P. Keystone Techs., Inc., 326 F.3d 1255, 1263 (Fed. Cir. 2003). "That presumption is especially strong when the limitation in dispute is the only meaningful difference between an independent and dependent claim." Acumed LLC v. Stryker Corp., 483 F.3d 800, 806 (Fed. Cir. 2007).


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