MiiCs & Partners America Inc. et al v. Funai Electric Co. Ltd. et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER providing claim construction of the term "disposed between" in U.S. Patent No. 6,211,534. Signed by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 12/5/2017. (nms)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
MiiCs & PARTNERS, INC., et al.,
FUNAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD., et al.,
Civil Action No. 14-804-RGA
SAMSUNG DISPLAY CO., LTD.,
Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of the term "disposed
between" in U.S. Patent No. 6,211,534 ("the '534 patent"). The parties did not request that the
Court construe this term in their Markman briefing, however, a dispute has since arisen between
the parties over its meaning. (See D.I. 506, 532; Civ. Act. No. 14-803, D.I. 564). The disputed
term appears in the following limitation in claim 1:
nonlinear elements which are respectively disposed between one end of each of
said gate wirings and said common conductor line on the gate wiring side and
between one end of each of said signal lines and said common conductor line on
the signal line side, and each of which comprises a plurality of TFTs ....
(' 534 patent, 15 :60-65) (disputed term italicized).
Initially, Defendants proposed that I construe "disposed between" to mean
"electrically connected between." (D.I. 506 at 3). They now argue I should construe the
term according to its plain and ordinary meaning, or, alternatively, to mean "physically
located between, in whole or in part." (D.I. 532 at 1). Plaintiffs have not proposed an
alternative construction. They argue, however, that the limitation "plainly means that
each nonlinear element (each of which comprises a plurality of TFTs) is disposed
(positioned) between an end of a gate wiring and the common conductor on the gate
wiring side." (Civ. Act. No. 14-803, D.I. 564 at 5). Further, based on statements made
by Plaintiffs' expert, Dr. Watts, Defendants understand Plaintiffs to take the position that
"disposed between" means "that the nonlinear elements cannot lie anywhere other than
between the lines." (D.I. 532 at 1).
I for the most part agree with Defendants' second proposed construction, that is,
"physically located between, in whole or in part." As Defendants note, "between" is
ordinarily understood to mean "at, into, or across the space separating (two objects or
regions)." (Id. at 2 (quoting Oxford Compact English Dictionary 92 (2000)). The plain
meaning of the word does not require, therefore, that the nonlinear elements be entirely
located between an end of a gate wiring and the common conductor line on the gate
wiring side. Rather, a nonlinear element is still "between" those two components even if
it simultaneously straddles one or both components.
Further, as Defendants point out, certain preferred embodiments of the '534
patent depict "a configuration in which the nonlinear element is entirely physically
between the common conductor line and the end of the gate wiring/signal lines." (Id. at 3
(citing '534 patent, Figs. 8, 9)). It is generally improper, however, to import a limitation
from the preferred embodiments into the claims. E.g., Arlington Indus., Inc. v.
Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., 345 F.3d 1318, 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2003).
In my opinion, however, Defendants' use of the word "physically" is redundant
and thus unnecessary. That a nonlinear element is "physically located" somewhere is
inherent in its being "located" somewhere. Accordingly, I will construe "disposed
between" to mean, "located between, in whole or in part."
_5_ day of December, 2017.
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