IYM Technologies LLC v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
ORDER Construing the Terms of U.S. Patent No. 7,448,012. Signed by Judge Gregory M. Sleet on 10/27/2017. (mdb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
IYM TECHNOLOGIES LLC
ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC.
C.A. No. 16-cv-649-GMS
ORDER CONSTRUING THE TERMS OF U.S. PATENT NO. 7,448,012
After considering the submissions of the parties and hearing oral argument on the matter,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that, as used in the asserted claims of
U.S. Patent No. 7,448,012 ("the '012 patent"):
The phrase "constructing a system of initial constraints among said layout
objects," as used in the '012 patent, is construed to mean "building a set of linear
equations from the initial .coordinate variables of the layout objects and the initial
limitations on the geometry parameters of the layout objects." 1
Plaintiffs argument is twofold: the term "constraints" needs no construction, but, if it does, the term means
"limits on geometry parameters of the layout objects in the design layout." Defendant argues that the entire claim
phrase requires construction and means "building a set oflinear equations from the coordinate variables of the layout
objects and constraint distances between layout objects." The court finds that both the term "constraints" and the
entire claim phrase requires construction.
First, the term constraints should be construed to mean "limitations on the geometry parameters of the layout
objects in the design layout." The Summary of the Invention describes the process of the layout production and design.
When the initial layout is produced by the software, "the relative distance between layout objects are constrained by
design rules." '012 patent col. 1, 11. 21-23. The chip layout remains true to the design rules despite any modifications
to the layout done by the present invention. Markman Hr' g Tr. 49: 12-17. The design rules, therefore, act as the very
first constraints among the layout objects. The specification explains that "design rules guarantee yield by limiting
layout geometry parameters such as minimum spacing, minimal line width, etc." '012 patent, col. 3, 11. 10-11; see
also Markman Hr'g Tr. 6:6-9. The court is satisfied that constraints, like design rules, are "limits on the geometry
parameters of the layout objects in the design layout."
Plaintiff offered the court a definition of constraints, which the court accepted, but has failed to establish
what "constructing a system of initial constraints" means. Defendant argues that the construction of a system of initial
constraints requires three things: (1) linear equations, (2) constraint distances, and (3) coordinate variables. The court
agrees that both linear equations and coordinate variables should be included in the construction. of this claim phrase,
but the court will not include constraint distances in its construction.
The specification and prosecution history support Defendant's argument that linear equations are a required
component in the construction of a system of initial constraints. Defendant asks the court to limit the inventor's
claimed "system of constraints" to linear equations. Plaintiff disagrees and argues that "constraints and equations are
different concepts," because the intrinsic evidence shows that equations can be described as something other than a
constraint and a constraint does not need to be represented in an equation. Markman Hr'g Tr. 19:5-6, (D.I. 71 at 7.)
Defendant argues that the specification, prosecution history, and the nature of the invention all demonstrate that
constructing a system of initial constraints requires building linear equations. (D.I. 74 at 10.) The court agrees.
First, Plaintiff was unable to point to one place in .the specification or embodiments that teach nonlinear
equations. Instead, Plaintiff points to the prosecution history. The inventor amended claim 1 to overcome a 35 U.S.C.
§ 102 rejection by deleting the word linear. (2008 Amendment, at J.A. 254.) In explaining the amendment, the
inventor cited the Heng and the Marple patents to support his conclusion that "non-linear constraints are implied in
the present invention." (2008 Amendment, at J.A. 258), (D.1. 75 at 2.) The Heng specification teaches that "[t]he
system of linear constraints is difficult to solve with a non-linear objective function." (Heng patent, at J.A. 540.)
Plaintiff believes that although nonlinear constraints are more difficult to enforce, "anyone who talks about any
constraints or any system of constraints know they exist" Markman Hr'g Tr. 45:15-16. The Marple patent comes to
a similar conclusion. The Marple patent represents constraints both linearly and nonlinearly and teaches that"[ s]ince
nonlinear constraints are more difficult to enforce in mathematical programming, a linear approximation to [the]
constraint is used instead." (Marple et. al, at J.A. 409), Markman Hr'n Tr. 42:22-43:2. Defendant contends that
Marple "is still teaching us that in your system of initial constraints you are using linear equations." Markman Hr'g
Tr. 46:20-23. The court agrees with Defendant. The inventor's amendment does not indicate that a person having
ordinary skill in the art would have used nonlinear constraint equations. In fact, Marple teaches that when faced with
a nonlinear constraint equation, the best way to enforce the constraint is to convert the equation from nonlinear to
The specification further shows that the inventor intended that this claimed step be completed using linear
equations. The sole description of the sole embodiment of this claimed step, figure 1, Block 002 points to a "weUknown" procedure can be found on page 863 of the article "Algorithmic Aspects of One-Dimensional Layout
Compaction" by Jurgen Doenhardt and Thomas Lengauer ("the Doenhardt article"). '012 patent, col. 3, 11. 19-23.
The article's only representation of constraints is in the form of linear equations and "are generated between the xcoordinates of the layout components." (Doenhardt article, at J.A. 661.) The linear constraint equations form three
classes of constraints: (1) constraints that encode contacting rules, (2) constraints that encode design rules, and (3)
constraints that encode minimum distance. (Doenhardt article, at J.A. 661-662.) Therefore, even though Philips
instructs against claim constructions that limit the claimed invention to the specification or to one embodiment, here,
the use of linear equations to construct a system of constraints as shown in figure 1, Block 002 and its description in
the specification, the Doenhardt article, the Heng and Marple patents all exclusively use linear equations. The court
finds that a person of ordinary skill in the art would rely on this evidence to achieve the objects of the '012 patent.
See Medicines Company v. Mylan, Inc., 853 F.3d 1296, 1309 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (limiting a claim term to an example in
a patent that was the only embodiment of the term and the only description that cast light on what the term meant to a
person of ordinary skill in the art). The court, therefore, limits this claimed step to linear equations.
Next, Defendant argues-and the court agrees-that coordinate variables are a necessary component of the
linear equations used in the "constructing a system of initial constraints" step. The court finds that the claim language,
the nature of the invention, and the specification support the inclusion of the phrase "coordinate variables" in the
Defendant points to the term "coordinate variables," which appears for the first time in the "updating the
coordinate variables ...."step of the claim, thus, the "the" indicates that coordinate variables must have existed in the
system of initial constraints before the "updating" step. Markman Hr'g Tr. 37:15-18; 37:24-38:5 (emphasis added).
Further, Defendant argues that the inventor used the word "updating" in the last step of the claim to indicate that the
coordinate variables were present in the system of initial constraints and that the system must be updated to create the
final layout design. Markman Hr'g Tr. 37:7-15.
The phrase "computing local process modifications to change said in:itial
constraints using said descriptions of manufacturing process," as used in the '012
patent, is construed to mean "computing location specific modifications to the system
of initial constraints using said descriptions of the manufacturing process."2
Plaintiff argues that the claim language suggests that "coordinate variables"' antecedent basis is in the first
step of the claim, not of the "constructing a system of initial constraints" step not at issue here. Markman Hr'g Tr.
Defendant argues-and the court agrees-that coordinate variables are inherent to constraint equations
because they are merely position variables. Markman Hr'g Tr. 30:1, 37:3-5. These variables exist from the moment
that the layout objects are initially placed in the chip design and remain throughout the modification process. The
claim language indicates that the "constructing a system of initial constraints" step requires the incorporation of the
two steps that precede it: "receiving a design layout comprising a plurality oflayout objects residing on a plurality of
layers" and "receiving descriptions of manufacturing process." '012 patent, col. 8, ll. 18-20. Therefore, the inclusion
of coordinate variables in the "constructing a system of initial constraints" is a means of marking where a layout object
is placed based on the initial layout created by the layout software implementing the design rules, and not a method
of constraining the layout objects. The court does not find that the inclusion of the term "coordinate variables" limits
the claim because coordinate va_riables are necessary to the construction of a system of initial constraints.
Finally, Defendant argues that distance values are a necessary component of the construction of a system of
initial constraints. The court disagrees. The previously cited Doenhardt article states that the linear constraint
equations used for this step in the claim form three classes of constraints---one of which encodes minimum distance.
(Doenhardt article, at J.A. 662). Further, neither the specification nor the claim language use the term distance values
or teach that this claim phrase should be limited to the construction of linear equations from coordinate variables and
distance values. Therefore, the court excludes the term "distance values" from its claim construction.
Defendant proposes that this claim phrase means "computing location-specific distance values to change the
constraint distance in the system of initial constraints based on manufacturing response variables." Plaintiff contends
that "local process modifications:' means "location specific modifications to the system of initial constraints to account
for local processing conditions." The critical difference between the two parties is the construction of"local process
modifications." That is where the court will place its focus.
Defendant argues that "local process modifications" must be a distance value because only like elements can
be added. (D.I. 70 at 12.) Defendant's argument assumes that the court will adopt its construction of the next step of
the claim, that since "local process modifications" are combined with "the constraint distances in said system of initial
constraints," resulting in a new local constraint distance, the combined values must both be distance values. (D.I. 74
at 13); '012 patent, col. 8, 11. 27-19,Markman Hr'g Tr. 54:9-16. The court disagrees. While the next step of the claim
indicates that the local process modification is combined with the initial constraint distances to result in a new
constraint distance, '012 patent, col. 8, 27-29, that alone does not support limiting "local process modifications" to
"location-specific distance values." Nothing in the patent suggests that two values must be the same to be combined.
Further, the '012 patent and prosecution history are replete with uses of the term "distance," suggesting that if the
inventor thought that the term "distance values" more adequately conveyed the scope of his invention, he could have
included the phrase in this step of the claim.
Plaintiff also argues-and the court agrees-that Defendant's construction changes the nature of the claim.
The 'O 12 patent solves the problem of processing hotspots, which are localized areas of a chip where combinations of
geometric features can cause chip failure. (D.I. 71 at 9), Markman Hr'g 7: 1-4. To address this problem, the inventor
developed a method for adjusting the initial layout constraints to account for these localized issues while maintaining
design rule correctness and design rule intent. Id., see also Markman Hr'g Tr. 10:4-8. Thus, the purpose of this
invention was to allow the inventor to make location specific modifications to the system of initial constraints.
Defendant's construction seeks to eliminate that purpose altogether. The court sees no reason, either in the claim
language or specification, to so limit the claim. Instead, the court construes the term to mean "location specific
modifications to the system of initial constraints." (D.I. 71 at 8.)
The phrase "constructing new local constraint distances by combining said local
process modifications with constraint distances," as used in the '012 patent, is
construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 3
The phrase "enforcing said new local constraint distances," as used in the '012
patent, is construed to mean "solving a set of equations after incorporating the new local
constraint distances." 4
Defendant asks the court to construe the term "combining" to mean "adding." Plaintiff argues that no
construction is necessary. The court agrees.
Defendant argues that only like terms can be added together and, because of that, "combining" the local
process modifications with the initial constraint distances to produce "new local constraint distances" requires that
terms being combined must be distance values. (D.I. 70 at 12.) The court, again, rejects Defendant's argument.
Defendant further attempts to parse words from the specification. For example, Defendant cites to the use of the word
"plus" in the Summary of the Invention: "The original design rule distance plus local process modification effectively
creates a new constraint for every unique situation." '012 patent, col. 1, 11. 64-64 (emphasis added). Defendant also
cites the description of the embodiment that illustrates this step of the claim: "Local constraint distance is a general
addition to the constraint distance specified by the design rules." '012 patent, col. 3, 11. 60-61 (emphasis added). The
court fmds Defendant's citations to synonyms of "add" in the specification unconvincing. The portions of the
specification Defendant cites describe one action that takes place during the "combining" step, but fails to account for
other mathematical possibilities of combinl,ng local process modifications with the initial constraints, such as the use
of multipliers or percentages. Markman Hr'g Tr. 55:9-14. However, the step encompasses more than the addition of
. constraint distances. The specification clearly explains that "Block 006 combines local process modification value
delta_dij, with the original constraint distances generated in block 002." '012 patent, col. 3, 53-59 (emphasis added) .
. Defendant's construction would read out the inventor's embodiment and description. Therefore, because the court
finds no clear intention to limit the claim scope in the intrinsic record, it concludes the term "combining" needs no
Defendant argues that "enforcing" should be construed as "solving the set of linear equations after
incorporating the new local constraint distances." Plaintiff contends that no construction is necessary. Plaintiff argues
that the enforcement step does not require solving because "[e]nforcing means finding adjustments of the layout that
. will remove or fix violations, in the case of the new local constraint distances." Markman Hr'g Tr. 75:6-7, 11:1-3.
The court finds this explanation puzzling in light of the language of the claim, Plaintiff's statements during the
Markman hearing, and the specification. The court construes the term to mean, "solving a set of equations after
incorporating the new local constraint distances."
The claim language of the next step of claim 1 indicates that solutions are used to update "the coordinate
variables of layout objects according to the solutions obtained from enforcing said new local constraint distances."
'012 patent, col. 8, 11. 31-33,Markman Hr'g Tr. 72:23-25. Further, during theMarkman hearing, Plaintiff was unable
to explain this claimed step to the court without indicating that the "enforcing step is going to result in solutions."
Markman Hr'g Tr. 66:24-25, 67:24-68:10, 69:17-18.
Further, the specification supports Defendant's construction. Figure 1 "shows a block and flow diagram for
the present invention." 'O 12 patent, col. 3, 11. 4-5. The figure includes Block 008, labeled "Enforce New Constraints."
Id. The preferred embodiment of Block 008 is illustrated in figure 2. Id. Figure 2 is a block and flow diagram that
includes Block 102 labeled "Solve linear system." '012 patent, fig. 2. The embodiment illustrates a three step process
that starts with a system of equations for the local constraint. '012 patent, col. 4, 11. 18-19. The illustration is described
as follows: First an objective function Ct*X is constructed, Ct represents a row vector of coefficients for achieving
various optimization objectives and X represents the position variable in the layout. '012 patent, col. 4, 11. 22-25.
The objective function is constructed for "wire length minimization, legalization, compaction, and other measurable
metrics of layout." '012 patent, col 4, 11. 32-34. Second, the equation is solved. '012 patent, col. 4, 1. 35. Finally,
the layout is updated with the solution from step three using two methods: either horizontally and vertically at the
same time or using the heuristic process to remove errors one at a time. '012 patent, col. 4, 11. 40-41, 48--49.
The embodiment's description of the method described in the "enforcing" step, in addition to the claim
language and Plaintiffs Marlanan hearing statements, supports Defendant's argument that the "enforcing" step
requires finding a series of solutions that are used to update the layout objects in the next step.
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