Haemonetics Corp v Baxter Healthcare Corp. and Fenwal Inc., No. 2009-1557 (Fed. Cir. June 2, 2010) [Claim Construction].

On June 2, 2010, the Federal Circuit vacated a $15.6 million jury verdict for Haemonetics Corp. (“Haemonetics”) awarded in its lawsuit against Fenwal Inc. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. (collectively “Fenwal”) for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,705,983 (the “‘983 patent”).

Haemonetics and Fenwal both manufacture and sell centrifuge devices designed to separate red blood cells from human blood. The ’983 patent describes a “centrifugal unit” comprising (1) a vessel in which blood components are separated in a separation chamber and (2) tubing through which blood flows in and out of the vessel. In reaching its verdict, the jury had found the ’983 patent to be valid and infringed. But the Court concluded that this finding was based on an erroneous construction of the term “centrifugal unit” in claim 16. The District Court had interpreted “centrifugal unit” to mean just the vessel despite the fact that claim 16 specifically defines “centrifugal unit” as containing two components—both the vessel and its associated tubing: “[a] centrifugal unit comprising a centrifugal component and a plurality of tubes.” The Court recognized that the correct construction of “centrifugal unit” might lead to an absurd result given how that term is used in claim 1 of the ’983 patent, but concluded that Haemonetics would have to live with the consequences of its own drafting: “[W]e do not redraft claims to contradict their plain language in order to avoid a nonsensical result.”