United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
KRAUSZ INDUSTRIES LTD. formerly known as Krausz Metal Industries, Ltd. Plaintiff,
SMITH-BLAIR, INC.; SENSUS USA, INC.; SENSUS MANUFACTURING SHANGHAI LTD., Defendants.
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on plaintiff's motion to strike portions of defendants' opening claim construction brief (DE 71), and plaintiff's motion for leave to file a reply and to supplement the record (DE 74). This matter also is before the court for scheduling of a claim construction hearing. The issues raised have been fully briefed, and the matter is ripe for ruling. For the following reasons, the court denies plaintiff's motion to strike and grants plaintiff's motion for leave to file a reply and to supplement the record.
Plaintiff filed suit in August 2012 alleging patent infringement by defendants. Plaintiff seeks a declaration of infringement, monetary damages, and injunctive relief to prevent continuing infringement. Plaintiff claims that defendants market a pipe coupling device (the "421 Top Bolt ®") that infringes a patent owned by plaintiff, U.S. Patent No. 6, 293, 556 (the "556 Patent" or "the patent"). The 556 Patent issued in 2001, and was reconfirmed in 2012.
By way of summary, the patent describes in its abstract a "Coupling and Connecting Means for pipes of the same or different diameters and a seal to be used with such connecting means." (556 Patent, Abstract (DE 24-1 at 2)). The three claims of the patent are as follows:
1. A sealing ring for pipe connector means made of resilient material, the sealing ring comprising a first sleeve-like ring the cross section of which defines a inner space therein, and a second ring overriding said first sleeve-like ring and being loosely connected to said first ring, said second ring being adapted to be torn off said first ring at a predetermined location so as to adapt the sealing ring to interconnect pipes of substantially different diameters.
2. A sealing ring as claimed in claim 1 where said second ring is integral with said first ring.
3. A sealing ring as claimed in claim 1 where said seal is incorporated with connecting means provided with a U shape ring and placed within said U shaped ring.
Plaintiff alleges infringement of Claim 1 and Claim 3 of the patent.
The parties filed a joint claim construction statement on June 16, 2014, setting forth 14 disputed claim terms and proposed constructions for each. The parties filed opening claim construction briefs and responsive claim construction briefs in July and August, 2014. As required by the court's January 15, 2014, case management order, the parties filed on August 25, 2014, a joint report reiterating perceived need for claim construction hearing, proposing three dates for hearing in October and November, 2014. The report states that the parties do not plan to elicit live testimony at hearing, but propose initial presentations followed by argument on all disputed claim terms together. The parties estimate that approximately 4 to 5 hours will be need for the hearing.
On August 18, 2014, plaintiff moved to strike portions of defendants' opening claim construction brief, arguing that pictures alleged to be of plaintiff's and defendants' products contained in defendants' brief are improper and not relevant to claim construction. On September 2, 2014, plaintiff moved for leave to file a reply brief in order to respond to defendants' arguments regarding plaintiff's expert qualifications and testimony. Plaintiff also seeks to supplement the record with a complete file history of the patent and a complete transcript of the deposition of plaintiff's expert.
A. Claim Construction Standards
In Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), the Federal Circuit set forth the court's role in determining as a matter of law the meaning and scope of patent claims, in the context of a patent infringement action, such as the one brought by plaintiff here. Analysis of infringement involves two steps. "The first step is determining the meaning and scope of the patent claims asserted to be infringed." Id. at 976. "The second step is comparing the properly construed claims to the device accused of infringing." ...