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Neuro and Cardiac Technologies, LLC v. Neuronetics, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 9, 2019

NEURO AND CARDIAC TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
NEURONETICS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         Presently before the Court is an action for patent infringement brought by Plaintiff, Neuro and Cardiac Technologies, LLC, against Defendant, Neuronetics, Inc, for allegedly infringing upon the U.S. Patent No. 6, 366, 814 (the ‘814 Patent”). The ‘814 Patent discloses a device that treats medical disorders. At issue before the Court in this Markman process is the correct interpretation of the term “primary coil” as used in Claim 1 of the ‘814 Patent.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a Wisconsin limited liability company that is the owner of multiple patents. The patent at issue, the ‘814 Patent, was issued on April 2, 2002. The ‘814 Patent discloses a device for neuromodulation, which is the application of a stimulus to the nerve system. Specifically, the patent discloses a device for neuromodulation to treat neurologic, neuropsychiatric, and urological disorders.

         Defendant is a medical device company with its headquarters in Pennsylvania. According to Plaintiff, Defendant intentionally infringed upon Plaintiff's ‘814 Patent by using, importing, testing, causing to be supplied, selling, and/or offering for sale the NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System (“NeuroStar”), a system that treats major depressive disorders.

         The principal area of dispute is the parties' disagreement over the claims of the ‘814 Patent. Plaintiff alleges that the terms are straightforward and should be afforded their plain and ordinary meaning. Whereas, Defendant explains these concepts with reference to dictionaries, the ‘814 Patent itself, and prior art patents.

         B. Procedural Background

         On Jan 11, 2019, Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant for infringement of the ‘814 Patent.

         Per the Court's Order, the parties submitted Claim Construction briefs articulating their respective positions as to the proper interpretation of claim terms in the ‘814 Patent.

         On November 12, 2019 the parties appeared for a Markman hearing before the Court.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A patent describes the scope and limits of an invention to alert the public of the bounds of the patentee's exclusive rights and all that which remains open to the public. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc, 52 F.3d 967, 970 (Fed. Cir. 1995). Claim construction is a question of law. Id. at 977-98. Claim construction is the process whereby courts “determin[e] the meaning and scope of the patent claims asserted to be infringed.” Id. at 976. When construing the claims of a patent, a court considers the literal language of the claim, the patent specification and the prosecution history. Id. at 979. “[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction.” Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1324 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Accordingly, a court must attach the appropriate significance to appropriate sources “in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law.” Id.

         The Court should generally assign claim terms their “ordinary and customary meaning”, which is the meaning a person of ordinary skill in the art would afford the term at the time the patent application was filed. Id. at 1312-13. “[T]he ‘ordinary meaning' of a claim term is its meaning to the ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent.” Id. at 1321. If the claim terms are ambiguous, courts look to the specification and prosecution history to resolve the ambiguity. Markman, 52 F.3d at 986. The specification contains a written description of the invention, as well as the process and manner of developing and using the invention, and the prosecution history outlines the patentee's interactions and representations to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”). Id. at 985-986.

         The specification of the patent “is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term.” Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc.,90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996). Claims can never be read in isolation, but rather “must be read in view of the specification, of which they are a part. Markman, 52 F.3d at 979. Nevertheless, while courts can look to the written descriptions in the specification to define a term already in a claim limitation, courts cannot ...


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