790 F.3d 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2015), 2012-1014, Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Philips Electronics North America Corp.
|Citation:||790 F.3d 1329, 115 U.S.P.Q.2d 1357|
|Opinion Judge:||Reyna, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||LIGHTING BALLAST CONTROL LLC, Plaintiff-Appellee v. PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NORTH AMERICA CORPORATION, Defendant, UNIVERSAL LIGHTING TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant-Appellant|
|Attorney:||JONATHAN TAD SUDER, Friedman, Suder & Cooke, Fort Worth, TX, for plaintiff-appellee. Also represented by DAVID ARTHUR SKEELS; ROBERT GREENSPOON, Flachsbart & Greenspoon, LLC, Chicago, IL; ANDREW JOHN DHUEY, Berkeley, CA. STEVEN J. ROUTH, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Washington, DC, for def...|
|Judge Panel:||Before LOURIE, O'MALLEY, and REYNA, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||June 23, 2015|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit|
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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in No. 09-CV-0029, Judge Reed O'Connor.
This case returns to us on remand from the Supreme Court of the United States and was returned to the panel for reconsideration in light of Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 574 U.S., 135 S.Ct. 831, 190 L.Ed.2d 719
(2015). Appellant Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc. (" ULT" ) appeals four issues. We affirm.
A. Background of the Technology
High levels of current are required to cause a fluorescent lamp to emit visible light. As the panel explained in the initial panel opinion in this case, Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp. (" Lighting Ballast I " ), 498 F.App'x 986 (Fed. Cir. 2013), fluorescent lamp fixtures typically include an electronic ballast to regulate electric current flow. An electronic ballast is a device that maintains current levels high enough to start the lamp but that prevents current from reaching destructive levels. When a lamp is removed from its holders or when a filament is broken, current provided by the ballast suddenly ceases to flow through the lamp and dissipates back into the ballast circuitry. The dissipated current can destroy the ballast and create an electric shock hazard for someone servicing the lamp.
U.S. Patent No. 5,436,529 (" the '529 patent" ), assigned to Lighting Ballast LLC (" Lighting Ballast" ), discloses an electronic ballast with the ability to shield itself from destructive levels of current when a lamp is removed or becomes defective. '529 patent col. 2 ll. 39-47.
Claim 1 recites:
1. An energy conversion device employing an oscillating resonant converter producing oscillations, having DC input terminals producing a control signal and adapted to power at least one gas discharge lamp having heatable filaments, the device comprising:
voltage source means providing a constant or variable magnitude DC voltage between the DC input terminals; output terminals connected to the filaments of the gas discharge lamp; control means capable of receiving control signals from the DC input terminals and from the resonant converter, and operable to effectively initiate the oscillations, and to effectively stop the oscillations of the converter; and direct current blocking means coupled to the output terminals and operable to stop flow of the control signal from the DC input terminals, whenever at least one gas discharge lamp is removed from the output terminals or is defective.
'529 patent col. 11 ll. 49-68 (emphasis added to relevant terms).
B. Procedural History
On February 24, 2009, Lighting Ballast filed suit against ULT asserting infringement of the '529 patent. The parties engaged in claim construction briefing and the court held a hearing thereon. ULT argued that the term " voltage source means" is governed by 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6 and that the claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 2 as indefinite because the specification fails to disclose what structure corresponded to the " voltage source means" limitation. The district court initially agreed with ULT.
Lighting Ballast filed a motion for reconsideration. The district court reversed course, finding that its initial construction of " voltage source means" was incorrect. The district court noted that its prior ruling " unduly discounted the unchallenged expert testimony" and " exalted form over substance and disregarded the knowledge
of a person of ordinary skill in the art." Lighting Ballast Control, LLC v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp., No. 7:09-CV-29, 2010 WL 4946343, at *12 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 2, 2010). The district court cited testimony from an expert for Lighting Ballast, Dr. Victor Roberts, and the inventor, Andrzej Bobel, both of whom testified that one of skill in the art would understand the claimed " voltage source means" to correspond to a rectifier, which converts alternating current (" AC" ) to direct current (" DC" ), or other structure capable of supplying useable voltage to the device. Thus, the district court concluded that the term " voltage source means" had sufficient structure to avoid the strictures of § 112 ¶ 6 and denied ULT's motion.
Thereafter, ULT renewed its argument that the asserted claims are invalid as indefinite, this time couched as a motion for summary judgment. J.A. 62. The district court noted that " ULT presents no additional basis for holding the asserted claims invalid." Id. The district court, thus, declined to revisit the issue for a third time and adopted its prior findings and analysis...
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