Atlantic Research Mkting Sys, Inc v Austin Precision Products, Inc., Civil Action No. 09-10034-DPW, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46480 (D. Mass. May 12, 2010) (Woodlock, D.J.) [Claim Construction].

Plaintiff Atlantic Research Marketing Systems, Inc. (“ARMS”) brought this suit against Defendant Austin Precision Products, Inc. (“Austin”) alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 4,845,871. The patent-in-suit concerns a device for attaching accessories, such as lasers and sights, to a weapon. The District Court (Woodlock, D.J.) construed the term “actuating means” pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 112, para. 6 to include an “actuating handle.”

After reciting the general law on claim construction, the District Court reviewed the statutory mandate that means-plus-function claims “shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof.” The first question, therefore, addressed by Judge Woodlock was whether the phrase “actuating means” should be construed as a means-plus-function claim under 35 U.S.C. § 112. Because the claim did not recite sufficient structure for describing the claimed function on its own, Judge Woodlock concluded that the claim did indeed need to be construed to determine the corresponding structure.

By looking to the specification, “actuating means” was construed to include an “actuating handle.” The District Court, however, declined to adopt the Defendant’s added limitation that the actuating handle be mechanically linked to the shaft of the locking means. The claim language itself—“actuating means is engaged to the locking means”—was found to be sufficient to perform the function of actuating.