United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ASM ASSEMBLY SYSTEMS SWITZERLAND GMBH and ASM VECTORGUARD LIMITED, Plaintiffs,
QTS ENGINEERING, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON CLAIM CONSTRUCTION
Sorokin United States District Judge.
intellectual property dispute, the plaintiffs ASM Assembly
Systems Switzerland GmbH and ASM VectorGuard Limited
(collectively, “ASM”) allege that QTS
Engineering, Inc. (“QTS”) manufactures and sells
products that infringe upon three of their patents: U.S.
Patent No. 8, 490, 545 (“the '545 patent”),
U.S. Patent No. 8, 904, 929 (“the '929
patent”), and U.S. Patent No. 9, 623, 650 (“the
'650 patent”). QTS counterclaims for a declaratory
judgment of invalidity and non-infringement. Before the Court
are the parties' briefs on claim construction. The Court
held a hearing on October 13, 2017, pursuant to Markman
v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370
(1996), at which it heard argument and technology tutorials.
parties dispute the proper construction of two terms:
“attachment elements” and
“slot.” Each of the disputed terms appears in the
claims of one or more of the three patents at issue in the
case. All of the patents at issue are either a
continuation-in-part or divisional from one patent, U.S.
Patent Number 8, 069, 783 (“the '783
Patent”). The '783 Patent is not at issue in this
three patents at issue relate to stencil printing screens for
electronics manufacturing. Stencil printing screens are used
to attach small electronic packages to printed circuit
boards. The printing screens are typically thin metal sheets
with patterns cut through. Solder paste, a powder metal
alloy, is pressed through the screens onto circuit boards to
establish electrical connections. The stencil printing screen
controls the volume of solder paste printed onto the circuit
QTS are each in the business of developing stencil printing
screens and component parts. ASM's products include the
VectorGuard® stencil frame (“VectorGuard
Frame”). QTS's products include the Apshen Stencil
Foil Adapter System (“Apshen Frame”). ASM claims
QTS's Apshen Frame infringes upon their patented
property, specifically the '545 patent, the'929
patent, and the '650 patent.
stencil printing screen unit includes an intermediate frame
attached to the printing screen. The intermediate frame
engages with a tensioning device that prevents flexing of the
printing screen. The intermediate frame also protects and
stores the screen. This concept is illustrated by the figure
below drawn from the patents at issue. Doc. No. 68-1 at
10; Doc. No.68-2 at 10; Doc. No. 68-3 at 10.
present purposes, it is enough to say that each patent at
issue teaches different claims relating to a printing screen
unit. To the extent the patents at issue differ in a manner
material to claim construction, the Court addresses such
“construction of a patent, including terms of art
within its claim, is exclusively within the province of the
court.” Markman, 517 U.S. at 372. “It is
a bedrock principle of patent law that the claims of a patent
define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the
right to exclude.” Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415
F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (internal quotations
omitted). The claim itself is “of primary importance,
in the effort to ascertain precisely what it is that is
patented.” Id. (citing Merrill v.
Yeomans, 94 U.S. 568, 570, 24 L.Ed. 235 (1876)); see
Aro Mfg. Co. v. Convertible Top Replacement Co., 365
U.S. 336, 339 (1961) (“the claims made in the patent
are the sole measure of the grant”).
words of the claim “are generally given their ordinary
and customary meaning.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at
1312. The “ordinary and customary meaning of a claim
term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of
ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the
invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the
patent application.” Id. at 1313. The
“person of ordinary skill in the art is deemed to read
the claim term not only in the context of the particular
claim in which the disputed term appears, but in the context
of the entire patent, including the specification.”
Id. “In some cases, the ordinary meaning of
claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art
may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim
construction in such cases involves little more than the
application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly
understood words.” Id. at 1314.
correct construction of a claim “stays true to the
claim language and most naturally aligns with the
patent's description of the invention.”
Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316 (quoting Reinshaw PLC
v. Marposs Societa' Per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250
(Fed. Cir. 1998)). “A claim construction is persuasive,
not because it follows a certain rule, but because it defines
terms in the context of the whole patent.” Renishaw
PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243 at
1250. Intrinsic evidence-the patent claims, specification,
and prosecution history-is the most reliable and useful
evidence in determining the meaning of a patent's claims.
Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317-19. Extrinsic evidence,
including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and
learned treatises, may also assist the court in understanding
the underlying technology, the meaning of terms to one
skilled in the art, and how the invention works.
Id.; Markman, 52 F.3d at 980.
case, neither party proposed an evidentiary hearing and
neither side has submitted affidavits or extrinsic evidence
with the exception of the definition of “element”
drawn from Merriam-Webster and submitted by QTS. Doc. No.
71-1. The Court agrees with the parties' approach.
Term 1: “Attachment Elements” ('545