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Omega Eng'g, Inc. v. Raytek Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

July 7, 2003, Decided

01-1546, 02-1478

Opinion

 [***1322]   [*1317]  CLEVENGER, Circuit Judge.

Omega Engineering, Inc. ("Omega") appeals the grants of summary judgment in favor of Raytek Corporation, Davis Instrument Manufacturing Company, Inc., Cole-Parmer Instrument Company, and Dwyer Instruments, Inc. (collectively "Raytek"). In this appeal involving three consolidated actions, the district court ruled that Raytek did not infringe the asserted claims of U.S. Patents Nos. 5,727,880 (the "'880 patent"), 5,823,678 (the "'678 patent"), and 5,823,679 (the "'679 patent"). Based on its claim construction, the trial court also invalidated claims 33 and 41 of the '679 [**2]  patent as indefinite. Because the district court [***1323]  erred in its claim construction of the patents in suit, we reverse and remand.

 [*1318]  I

The patents in suit relate to a laser sighting system for use on infrared thermometers. Such sighting systems address a problem particular to the operation of infrared thermometers, which are also called radiometers.

Before the advent of radiometers, mercury thermometers and other traditional means of measuring an object's temperature required physical contact between the sensor and the measured object. In many situations, however, physical contact is difficult or even impossible, such as when the object is a moving piece of machinery in an industrial setting or has a temperature that exceeds the melting point of the sensor.

To address that problem, infrared thermometers can measure a surface's temperature remotely by assessing the amount of heat energy emitted in the form of infrared radiation. The radiometer detects infrared energy through a lens, which receives and directs radiation in the same way that the optics of a telescope receive visible light waves. Like a telescope, the radiometer's lens only detects radiation within its optical "field of [**3]  view."

Because the radiometer measures temperature by averaging the temperature of all surfaces within its field of view, the optimum temperature measurement occurs when the target area perfectly fills the entire field of view. Under less than optimum conditions, the indicated temperature represents a mixture of object and background temperatures, possibly leading to inaccurate readings. It is therefore important to determine the location of the field of view and the extent to which it encompasses the target area.

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334 F.3d 1314 *; 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 13570 **; 67 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1321 ***

OMEGA ENGINEERING, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. RAYTEK CORPORATION, DAVIS INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., COLE-PARMER INSTRUMENT COMPANY, and DWYER INSTRUMENTS, INC., Defendants-Appellees. RAYTEK CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. OMEGA ENGINEERING, INC., Defendant-Appellant, and NEWPORT ELECTRONICS, INC., Defendant.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from: United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Judge Janet C. Hall.

Omega Eng'g, Inc. v. Cole-Parmer Instrument Co., 198 F. Supp. 2d 152, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6063 (D. Conn., 2002)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

patent, energy, zone, laser beam, disclaimer, outline, patentee, temperature, periphery, laser, district court, measurement, beams, disavowal, heat, corresponding, invention, surface, infringement, specification, structures, visibly, summary judgment, means-plus-function, inside, unmistakable, projecting, prior art, radiometer, trial court

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Summary Judgment Review, General Overview, Standards of Review, Summary Judgment, Motions for Summary Judgment, Burdens of Proof, Opposing Materials, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Genuine Disputes, Legal Entitlement, Materiality of Facts, Patent Law, Jurisdiction & Review, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Appeals, Infringement Actions, Claim Interpretation, Fact & Law Issues, Scope of Claim, Infringing Acts, Claims & Specifications, Invention Theory, Specifications, Definiteness, Precision Standards, Claims, Claim Language, Description Requirement, Means Plus Function, Means Plus Function Clauses, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Antitrust & Trade Law, Intellectual Property, Bad Faith, Fraud & Nonuse, Defenses, Estoppel & Laches, US Patent & Trademark Office Proceedings, Duplication & Multiplicity, Reissue Proceedings, Prosecution History Estoppel