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Lecat's Ventriloscope v. Mt Tool and Manufacturing

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

February 6, 2017



          Ruben Castillo Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Lecat's Ventriloscope filed this suit on May 17, 2016, against Defendant MT Tool and Manufacturing for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 645, 141 ("the '141 Patent"). (R. 1, Compl.) The case is currently in the early stages of discovery. On November 30, 2016, Plaintiff served Defendant with "Initial Infringement Contentions" in accordance with Northern District of Illinois Local Patent Rule ("LPR") 2.2. Defendant moves to strike Plaintiffs Initial Infringement Contentions ("IICs") as failing to provide the disclosure required by LPR 2.2, (R. 34, Mot.) Plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that its contentions satisfy LPR 2.2 and that Defendant's arguments essentially dispute the correctness of Plaintiffs theories rather than the sufficiency of its disclosures. (R. 38, Opp.) For the reasons explained below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.


         Some familiarity with the asserted patent and Plaintiffs infringement allegations helps frame Defendant's motion. The '141 Patent relates to an "arrangement for auscultation training." (R. 1-1, '141 Patent, at [54] (title); see also Id. col. 1 ll. 41-42 ("The present application discloses an arrangement and method for auscultation training.").) As defined in the patent specification, auscultation is "the act of listening to sounds within the body as a method of diagnosis." (Id. col. 1 ll. 13-14.) According to the specification, a stethoscope is an example of an auscultation device, as it may be used to "listen to internal sounds in the human body, such as for example heart sounds, breathing (breath sounds), intestinal noises, and blood flow in arteries and veins." (Id. col. 1 ll. 14-18.) The specification explains as background that "[u]sing a stethoscope or other auscultation device to diagnos[e] a patient requires training in detecting and identifying . .. abnormal auditory findings." (Id. col. 1 ll. 25-27.) "[Simulators and mannequins are often used to train or test students on auscultation devices, " and they may be equipped to "include a sound generating device embedded within the body... to produce sounds consistent] with an abnormal physical condition, which students must detect and identify." (Id. col. 1 ll. 31-37.)

         The invention disclosed in the ' 141 Patent is an arrangement for auscultation training that "provides for the transmission of audio signals to an auscultation device for medical simulation." (Id. col. 1 ll. 42-45.) The claimed arrangement, according to the patent's Abstract, is designed to "allow for the broadcast of simulated medical sounds to a generally, normal appearing auscultation device for the purposes of teaching or testing using simulated patient scenarios, while allowing for normal person-to-person interaction between the simulated patient and physician." (Id. at [57].) In one exemplary embodiment of the invention that is described in the specification, a transmitter "sends a wireless signal to [an] auscultation device." (Id. col. 1 ll. 49-53.) The auscultation device, in turn, has an associated "receiver for receiving the audio signal from the transmitter" and a "speaker for relaying the sound to the end user." (Id.) The patent also describes and claims methods for using such an apparatus in auscultation training. Claim 1 of the patent, for example, reads:

1. An arrangement for auscultation training, comprising:
a signal generator capable of generating an audio signal representing at least one sound, the signal generator being controlled by a human operator, wherein the human operator plays one or more appropriate audio files according to a user's placement of a stethoscope headpiece on a patient;
a transmitter associated with the device for transmitting an audio signal corresponding to the at least one sound;
an auscultation device, comprising a stethoscope, remote from the transmitter, the auscultation device comprising:
a receiver adapted to receive the audio signal from the transmitter; and
a speaker adapted to audibly communicate the audio signal received by the receiver to the user.

(Id. at col. 5 1. 54 - col. 6 1. 7)

         In its complaint, Plaintiff identified Defendant's "MX S-Scope" (the "S-Scope") as allegedly infringing the '141 Patent. (R. 1, Compl. ¶ 9.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that end users of the S-Scope directly infringe claims of the '141 Patent in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) when utilizing the S-Scope, (id. ¶¶ 9-10, 18-23), and that Defendant actively induces such infringement in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) by "making and selling the S-Scope, ... making the S-Scope [iPhone] App . .. available on the Apple iTunes store as a free download, and actively promoting the S-Scope as an auscultation training device, " (id, 16).


         Under Local Patent Rule 2.2, a party claiming patent infringement must serve on all parties "Initial Infringement Contentions" containing the following information:

(c) a chart identifying specifically where each element of each asserted [patent] claim is found within each ...

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