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Varex Imaging Corp. v. Richardson Electronics, Ltd.

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

September 30, 2019

VAREX IMAGING CORP., Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARDSON ELECTRONICS, LTD., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM, OPINION, AND ORDER

          John Robert Blakey United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Varex Imaging Corporation sued Defendant Richardson Electronics, Ltd. for patent infringement. Along with its complaint, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction [1');">10]. For the reasons explained below, this Court denies the motion.

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff produces X-ray tubes, including its flagship product, the MCS-7078 X-ray tube, nicknamed the Snowbird. [33] at ¶¶1');">10, 1');">12');">2. The technology developed in concert with the Snowbird project resulted in the issuance of numerous patents from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, including U.S. Patent No. 6, 456, 692');">2 (the ‘692');">2 patent”), entitled “High Emissive Coatings on X-Ray Tube Components” and U.S. Patent U.S. Patent No. 6, 51');">19, 31');">17 (the ‘31');">17 patent), entitled “Dual Fluid Cooling System for High Power X-Ray tubes.” Id. at ¶¶1');">11');">1, 2');">27, 31');">1. The ‘692');">2 patent is

generally directed towards an X-ray tube with a vacuum enclosure in which a cathode generates electrons that are converted into X-rays upon collision with a rotating anode, which is supported by a rotor incorporating a highly emissive coating, and in which the bearing assembly that supports the rotor is located at least partially within the rotating anode.

Id. at ¶30. The ‘31');">17 patent is

generally directed towards a system and method for cooling a high-power X-ray tube in which an X-ray tube is disposed within a housing, a first coolant in the housing absorbs heat from the X-ray tube, and a second coolant flows through a passageway within the tube that directs the flow of the second coolant proximate to a portion of the X-ray tube.

Id. at ¶34. The Snowbird X-ray tube incorporates the emmisive coating claimed in the ‘692');">2 patent and the dual coolant system claimed in the ‘31');">17 patent. Id. at ¶36. Plaintiff owns all rights in both patents. Id. at ¶¶2');">28, 32');">2.

         Plaintiff sells its Snowbird X-ray tubes exclusively to Toshiba/Canon for use in the Toshiba/Canon Aquilion Computed Tomography (“CT”) System. Id. at ¶1');">10. For any given CT scanner, Toshiba/Canon will purchase numerous X-ray tubes, as the tubes are consumables and will need to be replaced multiple times during the scanner's lifespan. Id. at ¶1');">16. When Toshiba/Canon returns spent Snowbird tubes to Plaintiff, Plaintiff will scrap the X-ray tube insert and examine components to see if they can be refurbished and reused; the tube itself is destroyed. Id. at ¶2');">25.

         Defendant manufactures and sells aftermarket components for medical devices, including an X-ray tube called the ALTA750, an alternative to the Snowbird X-ray tube. Id. at ¶¶37-38. Defendant manufactures the ALTA750 using a combination of used Snowbird components and newly-manufactured components. Id. at ¶¶41');">1-44. The ALTA750 X-ray tube is then placed within a used Snowbird X-ray tube housing and sold. Id. at ¶45.

         Plaintiff sued Defendant on October 1');">15, 2');">201');">18 for patent infringement and filed an amended complaint on November 2');">27, 2');">201');">18. See [1');">1], [33]. Plaintiff alleges (in count 1');">1 of its amended complaint) that Defendant infringes at least claims 1');">1, 3, 6, 7, and 1');">12');">2 of the ‘692');">2 patent, in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 2');">271');">1(a). Claims 1');">1 through 3[1');">1" name="FN1');">1" id="FN1');">1">1');">1] read as follows:

1');">1. An x-ray tube comprising:
a vacuum enclosure having an electron source and anode disposed therein, said anode having a target surface positioned to receive electrons emitted by said electron source;
a rotor at least partially received within said anode, and wherein the rotor is operably connected to the anode;
a bearing assembly rotatably supporting said rotor and at least partially received within said anode so that said rotor is at least partially interposed between said bearing assembly and said anode; and
an emissive coating disposed on at least a portion of said rotor that is disposed within the anode, the coating being comprised of a material that increases the emissivity of the rotor surface.
2');">2. An x-ray tube as defined in claim 1');">1, further comprising at least one cooling structure disposed proximate said emissive coating wherein heat emitted from said emissive coating is at least partially absorbed by said at least one cooling structure.
3. An x-ray tube as defined in claim 2');">2, wherein said at least one cooling structure comprises an annular extended surface ...

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