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AntennaSys, Inc. v. AQYR Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

December 27, 2018

AntennaSys, Inc.
v.
AQYR Technologies, Inc. and Windmill International, Inc.

          Kathleen M. Mahan, Esq. Steven J. Grossman, Esq. Arnold Rosenblatt, Esq. David K. Pinsonneault, Esq. Eric G. J. Kaviar, Esq. Laura L. Carroll, Esq.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PAUL BARBADORO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         AntennaSys, Inc., claims that AQYR Technologies International, Inc., has infringed U.S. Patent No. 7, 432, 868 B2 ("'868 Patent"). In this Memorandum and Order, I construe several disputed patent terms on which the infringement claim is based.

         I. Background

         A. Introduction

         The '868 Patent claims a portable antenna positioner apparatus and method for communicating with satellites. The patent's co-inventors each assigned their undivided one half interests in the patent to their respective employers, AntennaSys and Windmill International, Inc. AntennaSys and Windmill, in turn, entered into a License Agreement ("Agreement") that granted Windmill the exclusive right to exploit the '868 Patent under the terms and conditions of the Agreement. The Agreement obligates Windmill to prosecute infringement claims against third parties but permits AntennaSys to step in if Windmill fails to act within the time limits specified in the Agreement.

         AntennaSys claims that AQYR, a wholly owned subsidiary of Windmill, is selling several products that infringe the '868 Patent. It further asserts that it has standing to sue for infringement because Windmill has failed to enforce the '868 Patent against its subsidiary.[1]

         B. Prior Art

         When the '868 Patent was approved, "[e]xisting antenna positioners [were] heavy structures that [were] bulky and require[d] many workers to manually setup (sic) and initially orient." '868 Patent at 1:37-39. Some systems were so heavy that multiple workers were required to lift a disassembled apparatus. See '868 Patent at 1:44-47. Others were mounted on trucks and were difficult to ship by airplane. See '868 Patent at 1:39-41. The '868 Patent seeks to address these deficiencies by patenting a "compact, lightweight, portable self-aligning antenna positioner that [could be] easily moved by a single user and allowed for rapid setup and alignment." '8 68 Patent at 1:20-25.

         C. The Patent

         AntennaSys's infringement claim is focused principally on Claims 1 and 6 of the '868 Patent. I reproduce both claims below and highlight the terms that are in dispute.

         Claim 1

         What is claimed is:

1. A portable antenna positioner comprising:
an antenna with a centrally located pivot point; an elevation motor coupled with said antenna wherein said antenna rotates about said centrally located pivot point in elevation when moved by said elevation motor; at least one positioning arm coupled with said elevation motor; an azimuth motor coupled with said at least one positioning arm; a positioner base coupled with said azimuth motor wherein said positioner base houses a computer configured to control said antenna; and, said antenna, said elevation motor, said at least one positioning arm, said azimuth motor and said positioning base configured to be stowed and deployed and carried by a single person.
Claim 6
6. A method for utilizing a portable antenna positioner comprising:
coupling an antenna with an elevation motor wherein said antenna comprises a centrally located pivot point and wherein said antenna is configured to rotate about said centrally located pivot point in elevation when moved by said elevation motor; coupling at least one positioning arm with said an elevation motor; coupling said at least one positioning arm with an azimuth; coupling said azimuth motor with a positioner base; and, delivering said antenna, said elevation motor, said at least one positioning arm, said azimuth motor wherein said antenna is configured to be stowed and deployed and wherein said antenna, said elevation motor, said at least one positioning arm and said azimuth motor are configured to be carried by a single person.

         II. Legal Standard

         "[T]he claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) (citation omitted). As a result, "a claim construction analysis must begin and remain centered on the claim language itself, for it is the language the patentee has chosen to 'particularly point[] out and distinctly claim[] the subject matter which the patentee regards as his invention.'" Innova/Pure Water, Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1116 (Fed. Cir. 2004)(internal citation omitted). The words of a patent claim "are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The "ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention...." Id. at 1313.

         I must construe claims "in light of the appropriate context in which the claim term is used." Aventis Pharm. Inc. v. Amino Chems. Ltd., 715 F.3d 1363, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2013). Thus, although the written description and other portions of the specification may contextualize a term, "they cannot be used to narrow a claim term to deviate from the plain and ordinary meaning unless the inventor" intended to disclaim or disavow the claim scope. Id. (citing Toro Co. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 199 F.3d 1295, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 1999)). When construing a disputed claim term, other claims made in the patent can be "valuable sources of enlightenment as to the meaning of a claim term." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314.

         Patent claims are not construed in the abstract, but rather "in the context in which the term was presented and used by the patentee, as it would have been understood by a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention." Fenner Invs., Ltd. v. Cellco P'ship, 778 F.3d 1320, 1322-23 (Fed. Cir. 2015) . The specification "is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis" and is usually "the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term." WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 889 F.3d 1308, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2018) (quoting Phillips, 889 F.3d at 1315). The prosecution history and patent specification constitute intrinsic evidence and deserve priority in claim construction. Id. at 1323 (citation omitted). In the rare event that analysis of the intrinsic evidence does not resolve an ambiguity in a disputed claim term, I may turn to extrinsic evidence, such as inventor and expert testimony, treatises and technical writings. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. Although extrinsic evidence may be helpful in construing claims, the intrinsic evidence is afforded the greatest weight in determining what a person of ordinary skill would have understood a claim to mean. V-Formation, Inc. v. Benetton Grp. SpA, 401 F.3d 1307, 1310-11 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

         III. Analysis

         The parties have asked me to construe seven groups of terms. Four of these groups do not require construction, and one term in the fifth group has a plain but not commonly understood meaning that I will construe for the assistance of the jury. I devote the remainder of the Memorandum and Order to the two groups of terms that lie at the heart of this dispute.

         A. Terms 1-4

         1. "Antenna"

         Proposed constructions:

AntennaSys

Device connected to a receiver/transmitter to communicate with satellites

Windmill

Plain and ordinary meaning. To the extent that meaning needs to be defined:

A structure for receiving or transmitting electromagnetic signals

         2. "Pivot Point"

         Proposed constructions:

AntennaSys

A location about which an object rotates

Windmill

Plain and ordinary meaning. To the extent that meaning needs to be defined:

The location at which something turns or oscillates


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