Commissariat a L'Energie v. Samsung Elec.

Decision Date02 November 2007
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 03-484-MPT.
Citation524 F.Supp.2d 534
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Delaware
PartiesCOMMISSARIAT Á L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE, Plaintiff, v. SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., Defendant.

Richard D. Kirk, Ashley Blake Stitzer, The Bayard Firm, Wilmington, DE, Gaspare J. Bono, Lora A. Brzezynski, Pro Hac Vice, for Plaintiff.

Richard L. Horwitz, David Ellis Moore, Potter Anderson & Corroon, LLP, Wilmington, DE, Eric J. Faragi, Neil P. Sirota, Sabita J. Soneji, Scott R. Miller, Pro Hac Vice, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

MARY PAT THYNGE, United States Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

This is a patent infringement case. On May 19, 2003 Commissariat á l'Energie Atomique ("CEA") filed a complaint against Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. ("Samsung"), and others, for infringement of United States Patent Nos. 4,701,028 ("the '028 patent") and 4,889,412 ("the '412 patent") (collectively "the patents-in-suit").1 The '028 patent and the '412 patent are directed to technology involving the design and manufacture of liquid crystal displays ("LCDs") and related products.2 An LCD is a type of flat, panel display that is used in products, such as, computer monitors.3

On October 3, 2007, the court issued its Claim Construction Memorandum Order construing certain claim terms of the patents-in-suit.4 Currently before the court are CEA's two motions for partial summary judgment of infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) and (b)5 and Samsung's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of Claims 3-5 of the '412 patent.6 The parties' motions essentially operate as cross-motions for summary judgment regarding infringement/non-infringement.

The '028 patent was found invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112 for failure to disclose the best mode.7 As a result, the court will not address the parties' arguments regarding infringement or non-infringement of the '028 patent. Further, Claims 1 and 2 of the '412 patent were found anticipated.8 Therefore, the parties' contentions regarding infringement or non-infringement of those claims alone are moot.9 The remaining claims, 3 through 5 and 12, are dependant claims.10 This Memorandum Order addresses those claims.

BACKGROUND

The specific technology involved in this action and claimed in the patents-in-suit relates to vertically aligned ("VA-mode") LCD modules.11 When an electrical voltage is applied to specific parts of a module, the molecules of the liquid crystals tilt in a horizontal direction or alignment. The '028 patent claims an enhanced VA mode LCD module with a wide viewing angle resulting from compensation for birefringence.12 The '412 patent is an improvement on the '028 patent and allows for a greater viewing angle in all azimuthal angles by using a uniaxial negative film. Under the patents-in-suit, the viewing angle for VA-mode devices is increased `or widened, allowing a user to view a computer or television image at angles other than perpendicular or near perpendicular to the screen.

In its motions,13 CEA urges that Claims 1-5 and 12 of the '412 patent are infringed, both literally and under the doctrine of equivalents. CEA relies on Dr. Terry Scheffer ("Scheffer"),14 who compared CEA's claim construction to the structural and operational specifications of the accused Samsung LCD modules and supports his conclusions with the following evidence: 1) inspecting a disassembled Samsung LTM190E1 LCD module; 2) reviewing five representative Samsung LCD modules and classifying those modules;15 3) documents produced by Samsung including its responses to discovery; and, 4) deposition testimony of Samsung's technical 30(b)(6) witnesses. From his analysis, Scheffer concludes that all modules contain the same or similar strata: TAC layers; color filter side polarizer; color filter side compensation film; glass plate, color filter; electrode; thin film transistor; glass plate; compensation film; thin film transistor polarizer; and TAC layers. Scheffer's representative classes of the accused Samsung LCD modules are: 1) two biaxial polarizer assemblies; 2) a biaxial/uniaxial or C-plate/uniaxial assembly; and, 3) an A-plate/C-plate assembly. His classification is based on their optical configurations because the claims under consideration define the optical configuration of a module.16 Therefore, CEA maintains that Scheffer's analysis of the representative modules is reliable and proves infringement by all accused modules. As a result, CEA concludes that all Samsung's accused LCD modules contain the required elements to infringe Claims 1-5 and 12 of the '412 patent.

Samsung urges the court to reject Scheffer's analysis and classification because he has not complied with the standards for proving infringement, that is, an element-by-element analysis of each of the accused LCD modules. It maintains that CEA fails to prove that all accused modules infringe because the modules have different optical properties. Samsung asserts that its modules do not meet the limitation of uniaxial medium of Claim 3 (and claims 4 and 5 which depend therefrom) because they do not have an in-plane retardation "R0" of zero.17 In addition, Samsung contends that some of its modules do not meet the element of a biaxial medium under Claim 12, "wherein the weakest optical index is parallel to the homeotropic direction."18

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A grant of summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."19 This standard is applicable to patent cases.20 A Rule 56(c) movant bears the burden of establishing "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case."21 The nonmovant must be given the benefit of all justifiable inferences and the court must resolve any disputed issue of fact in favor of the nonmovant. Therefore, CEA, as the movant and patent owner, has the burden of proving infringement by a preponderance of the evidence22 Conversely, in support of its motion for summary judgment, Samsung must show that its modules do not meet at least one element of the claims at issue. Summary judgment is appropriate only when one conclusion regarding infringement/non-infringement could be reached by a reasonable jury.23

Determining whether a patent claim is infringed involves two steps.24 First, the court must determine the scope and meaning of the asserted claim terms by rendering its construction of those terms.25 This first step, claim construction, is a matter of law.26 Second, the court must compare the properly construed claims to the accused devices to determine whether each limitation is found either literally or equivalently in the accused product.27 This second step, the application of the construed claim to the accused product, is a fact-specific inquiry.28

ANALYSIS

In light of the prior rulings, the court's analysis begins with Claims 3 through 5 and 12 to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding these dependant claims.

'412 Patent, Claims 3 through 5:

Regarding Claim 3, the parties focus on the interpretation and application of the term "uniaxial medium." CEA argues that Samsung's modules contain uniaxial films, as that term is used by Samsung's own witnesses and in its technical documents. Samsung `offers that the term, properly construed, does not cover any compensation films used in its products. The parties do not address infringement of Claims 4 and 5, other than simply stating that the claims depend from Claim 3. For the analysis of the present motions only, the court will assume there is no dispute that the elements of Claims 4 and 5 cover Samsung's accused LCD modules, that is, they contain a compensation media that is a polymer and the polymer is a thermoplastic.29

Claim 3 of the '412 patent recites (with each disputed element numbered in brackets):

A cell according to claim 2, [1] wherein the two polarizing means are crossed rectilinear polarizers and [2] wherein the compensating medium is uniaxial medium of [3] negative optical anisotropy [4] having an axis of symmetry parallel to the homeotropic direction and an extraordinary axis parallel to said axis of symmetry.

CEA relies on Scheffer's analysis and report that Samsung's modules meet the uniaxial medium limitation. CEA argues that Scheffer's application of an in-plane retardation, R0 = 0, where (nx — ny)•d = 0, is consistent with Kim's30 declaration that the in-plane retardation values of Samsung's uniaxial films include ranges of under 8, under 5 or under 2, which literally include zero. CEA posits that Samsung's C-plate meets the limitation of a uniaxial compensation film because its in-plane retardation falls within ranges which include zero. CEA notes that during a presentation and in a published paper in 2004, Kim referenced the use of uniaxial films in large screen PVA LCD televisions. CEA notes that Samsung's specification sheets show uniaxial films with R0 = 0, confirming those accused modules which contain C-plates, TAC films and TAC-type films meet the uniaxial limitation.

In the alternative, CEA contends that "certain films are uniaxial medium of negative optical anisotropy in nature and have very small to no in-plane retardation R0 ."31 CEA emphasizes Kim's testimony that C-plates and TAC films as having "optical properties close to those of uniaxial film,"32 and his comment that TAC films are presumed to have a small non-zero retardation value. Finally, CEA argues that limiting uniaxial medium to the technical concept of uniaxial (nx = ny) is inconsistent with the intrinsic record and would be a feasibly impossible construct. CEA relies on Kim's testimony that because of variations in manufacturing processes, suppliers can only provide a range for retardation...

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  • Mobile Telecomms. Techs., LLC v. Samsung Telecomms. Am., LLC
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Texas
    • December 12, 2014
    ...v. Apple, Inc., 784 F. Supp. 2d 703, 714 (E.D. Tex. 2011) aff'd, 692 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2012); Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique v. Samsung Elecs. Co., 524 F. Supp. 2d 534, 541 (D. Del. 2007).) It is without question that MTEL must prove infringement for each of the accused products by a ......

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