Haemonetics, Corp., v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., No. 2009-1557 (Fed. Cir. June 2, 2010).
The patentee sued for infringement of a patent covering a portable blood separator. The district court issued a claim construction order and construed the term “centrifugal unit” in the phrase “centrifugal unit comprising a centrifugal component and a plurality of tubes” as limited to the vessel, not including the tubing for the blood separator. At the close of evidence, the district court granted, without opinion, the patentee’s motion for JMOL that the sole claim at issue was found to be not indefinite. The alleged infringer appealed the district court’s claim construction and the motion for JMOL on indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit reversed the claim construction and remanded to the district court for reconsideration of indefiniteness in light of the correct claim construction.
Patent claims function to delineate the precise scope of a claimed invention and to give notice to the public, including potential competitors, of the patentee’s right to exclude. Claims should be construed in an effort to give effect to all the terms even if this construction renders the claims inoperable or invalid. In this case, the district court’s construction failed to give effect to the word “comprising.” Considering comprising, the “centrifugal unit” included both the vessel and the tubing.
The court rejected the patentee’s argument that this construction was inconsistent with the parties’ agreed construction of “centrifugal unit” in another claim. The court explained that the specification included two different embodiments and that these two different embodiments tracked the language of the different independent claims. Consequently, these two different embodiments reasonably supported two different constructions for the same term in each of the independent claims.
Because the district court’s ruling on the JMOL on indefiniteness was based on the erroneous claim construction, the case had to be remanded for the district court to reconsider its ruling on indefiniteness in light of the correct claim construction.
A copy of the opinion can be found here.