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Competitive Techs., Inc. v. Fujitsu Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

June 15, 2006, Decided

05-1237

Opinion

 [*959]  LOURIE, Circuit Judge.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (the "University") appeals from the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entering judgment of noninfringement of claims 26, 32, 33, 36, 39, and 40 (collectively the "clamping claims") of U.S. Patent 5,081,400 (the "'400 patent"), invalidity of claims 5-11 of U.S. Patent 4,866,349 (the "'349 patent"), and invalidity of claims 21-25, 27-31, 35, and 38 (collectively the "non-clamping claims") of the '400 patent in favor of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu General Limited, Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display Limited, Fujitsu General America, Inc., and Fujitsu Microelectronics America, Inc. (collectively "Fujitsu"). Competitive Techs., Inc. v. Fujitsu Ltd., No. C-02-1673(N.D. Cal. Sept. 20, 2004) ("Judgment"). We affirm the district court's claim construction  [*960]   [**2]  of the term "clamping," and hence its grant of Fujitsu's motion for summary judgment of no literal infringement of the clamping claims of the '400 patent. We also affirm the court's grant of Fujitsu's motion for summary judgment of no infringement of those claims under the doctrine of equivalents. In addition, we affirm the court's grant of Fujitsu's motion for summary judgment that the non-clamping claims of the '400 patent are invalid because of anticipation, and that claims 5-11 of the '349 patent are invalid because of indefiniteness.

BACKGROUND

The '349 patent and its continuation, the '400 patent, are both entitled "Power Efficient Sustain Drivers and Address Drivers for Plasma Panel," and were issued to the University as assignee. The invention is directed to circuits that create images on a display by selectively exciting tiny pockets of light-emitting gas ("pixels") with electric current, used in plasma display panels ("PDPs"), electroluminescent panels, and liquid crystal panels. Generally, PDPs comprise two parallel glass plates, separated by a gas-filled gap of pixels. '400 patent, col. 1, ll. 14-20. In the "standard" PDP configuration, a pixel emits light when [**3]  its associated electrodes are charged and discharged by "driver" circuits that supply voltages to and remove voltages from those electrodes. Id. The perceived illumination of a pixel can be prolonged by applying an alternating voltage to the electrodes using a "sustain driver" circuit. Id., col. 1, ll. 31-37. The '349 and '400 patents, however, describe a different PDP configuration known as Independent Sustain and Address ("ISA") that includes the addition of an independent address electrode between the sustain electrodes; because the address electrodes are then connected to address driver circuits, address electrodes are not energized by a sustain driver circuit in ISA panels. Id., col. 1, ll. 65-67, col. 2, ll. 1-2.

Early PDPs consumed a great deal of energy because the energy supplied by the sustain driver circuit to a pixel was normally lost due to each pixel's inherent capacitance, i.e., the unavoidable capacitance associated with the physical geometry of the PDP's electrode configuration. Id., col. 2, ll. 21-23, 48-53. The invention of the '349 and '400 patents reduced the amount of energy normally lost in charging and discharging the capacitance of the [**4]  PDPs, describing an improved address driver circuit and an improved sustain driver circuit. Id., col. 2, ll. 30-60.

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185 Fed. Appx. 958 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14859 **

COMPETITIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff, and THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. FUJITSU LIMITED, FUJITSU GENERAL LIMITED, FUJITSU HITACHI PLASMA DISPLAY LIMITED, FUJITSU GENERAL AMERICA, INC., and FUJITSU MICROELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

Notice:  [**1]  THIS DECISION WAS ISSUED AS UNPUBLISHED OR NONPRECEDENTIAL AND MAY NOT BE CITED AS PRECEDENT. PLEASE REFER TO THE RULES OF THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR RULES GOVERNING CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OR NONPRECEDENTIAL OPINIONS OR ORDERS.

Subsequent History: Costs and fees proceeding at, Motion granted by, in part, Motion denied by, in part Competitive Techs. v. Fujitsu Ltd., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98312 (N.D. Cal., Aug. 23, 2006)

Prior History: Competitive Techs., Inc. v. Fujitsu Ltd., 333 F. Supp. 2d 858, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18064 (N.D. Cal., 2004)

CORE TERMS

clamping, patent, inductor, invalid, zero, infringement, electrodes, summary judgment motion, voltage, district court, doctrine of equivalents, capacitance, charging, panels, anticipated, discharging, indefiniteness, specification, driver, non-clamping, literal, reaches, energy, pixel, cell, noninfringement, correctly, genuine, plasma, configuration

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Claim Interpretation, Fact & Law Issues, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, General Overview, Doctrine of Equivalents, Elements, US Patent & Trademark Office Proceedings, Specifications, Definiteness