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Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

April 5, 1995, Decided

92-1049

Opinion

 [***1322]  [*970]   ARCHER, Chief Judge.

Herbert Markman and Positek, Inc. (collectively referred to as Markman) appeal from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 91-0940 (entered Oct. 1, 1991), that Westview Instruments, Inc. and Althon Enterprises, Inc. (collectively referred to as Westview) did not infringe claims 1 or 10 of United States Reissue Patent No. 33,054, notwithstanding the jury's verdict to the contrary. We have ordered that this case be reheard in banc. 3 We affirm the judgment of noninfringement. In doing so, we conclude that the interpretation and construction of patent claims, which define the scope of the patentee's rights under the patent, is a matter [**4]  of law exclusively for  [*971]  the court. Thus, in this case the district court properly discharged its obligation to delineate the scope of the claim on motion for judgment as a matter of law when the jury had rendered a verdict that was incompatible with a proper claim construction.

A. In the dry-cleaning industry, articles of clothing typically are taken in from customers, recorded in some form, and then sorted according to criteria such as type of clothing and type of cleaning required. During the sorting process, articles of clothing belonging to one customer may be combined together, and also may be combined with similar clothing belonging to other customers, in order to make the cleaning process more efficient  [**5]  and less costly. After the articles of clothing are sorted, they may be cleaned in the same establishment or transported to another establishment for cleaning. During the cleaning process, the articles of clothing move through different locations in the establishment. After cleaning, of course, the articles of clothing must be unsorted and returned to the respective customers.

Markman is the inventor named in and the owner of United States Reissue Patent No. 33,054 (the '054 patent), titled "Inventory Control and Reporting System for Drycleaning Stores." Markman's original patent No. 4,550,246 was reissued and the reissue is the patent in suit. Positek is a licensee under the patent in the dry-cleaning business.

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52 F.3d 967 *; 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 7593 **; 34 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1321 ***

HERBERT MARKMAN and POSITEK, INC., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. WESTVIEW INSTRUMENTS, INC. and ALTHON ENTERPRISES, INC., Defendants-Appellees.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Judge Katz.

Disposition: AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

patent, invention, cases, infringement, inventory, matter of law, technologic, articles, specification, disputed, terms, clothing, inventor, patentee, extrinsic evidence, patent infringement, letters patent, construing, trier of fact, question of fact, district court, words, de novo, courts, trial judge, common law, prior art, customer, trial court, scientific

Civil Procedure, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, General Overview, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Infringing Acts, Claim Interpretation, Scope of Claim, Specifications, Enablement Requirement, Claims, Claim Language, Description Requirement, Prosecution History Estoppel, US Patent & Trademark Office Proceedings, Reissue Proceedings, Criminal Law & Procedure, De Novo Review, Evidence, Testimony, Expert Witnesses, Jurisdiction & Review, Jury Trials, Right to Jury Trial, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Trial by Jury in Civil Actions, Fact & Law Issues, Contracts Law, Defenses, Ambiguities & Mistakes, Definiteness, Claims & Specifications, Invention Theory, Judicial Officers, Judges