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Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., C.A. No. 11-448-GMS (D. Del. July 15, 2013).

Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., C.A. No. 11-448-GMS (D. Del. July 15, 2013).

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Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., C.A. No. 11-448-GMS (D. Del. July 15, 2013).
Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., C.A. No. 11-448-GMS (D. Del. July 15, 2013).

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01/26/2014

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURTFOR
THE DISTRICT OF DELAWAREINVENSAS CORPORATION,Plaintiff,
v.
RENESAS ELECTRONICSCORPORATION,Defendant.
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Civil Action No. 11-448-GMS
ORDER CONSTRUING THE TERMS OF
U.S.
PATENT NOs. 6,396,140, 6,777,802,6,566,167, and 6,825,554
After having considered the submissions
of
the parties and hearing oral argument on thematter, IT
IS
HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that, as used in the assertedclaims
of
U.S. Patent Nos. 6,396,140 (the
'"
140 Patent"), 6,777,802 (the
'"802
Patent"),6,566,167 (the
'"167
Patent"), and 6,825,554 (the
'"554
Patent"):
A.
The ' 140 Patent
1.
The term
"a
top surface" is construed to mean "the upper exterior portion."'
1
The plaintiff, Invensas Corporation ("Invensas"), proposes the following constructions: "an uppersurface" or "a top surface
(i.e.
plain and ordinary meaning)." (D.l. 77 at 4.) The defendant, Renesas ElectronicsCorporation ("Renesas"), asks that this term
be
defined
as
"the upper most exposed portion
of
the substrate."
(ld)
For the reasons that follow, the court adopts a variation ofRenesas' proposed construction.The court agrees with Renesas that the words "top surface" convey the idea
of
an exterior or outermostportion. Yet, despite this plain meaning, the parties' positions at the
Markman
hearing compel the court to offerfurther guidance through construction
soas
to avoid problems
of
the sort contemplated
in
02
Micro InternationalLtd
v.
Beyond Innovation Technology
Co.,
Ltd,
521
F.3d
1351
(Fed. Cir. 2008).
See
id
at 1362 ("When the partiespresent a fundamental dispute regarding the scope
of
a claim term, it
is
the court's duty to resolve it.").While Renesas' proposed construction
of
"the upper most exposed portion
of
the substrate" adequatelycaptures the meaning
of
the term
"a
top surface," the court
is
reluctant to fully adopt this definition,
as
the word"exposed" creates unnecessary ambiguity. For example, it
is
unclear to what the upper most portion must beexposed. To empty space? The air? A non-substrate object? Additionally, the court fears that the phrase "uppermost" might create confusion
in
light
of
certain arguments made by Invensas at the
Markman
hearing. (D.l.
130
27-
 
2.
The term "the second metal layer serves
as
a reference to" is construed to mean"the second metal layer serves
as
a ground to."
2
30.) The word "exterior" appropriately conveys the essence
of
the claim term "surface," and the court
is
satisfiedthat its above construction gives full and correct meaning to the disputed phrase.As noted above, the court rejects Invensas' position that no construction
is
required-there
is
a cleardispute between the parties, and a "plain meaning" construction
in
this context likely would lead only to reargument
of
this claim term at some later date. Invensas' alternative
construction-"an
upper
surface"-is
similarly unhelpful
in
that
it
also contains the word "surface," the meaning
of
which
is
central to the parties' dispute.
In
support
of
its position, Invensas references U.S. Patent No. 5,808,873 (the '"873 Patent), which wascited by
the'
140
Patent. (D.I.
78
at 6-7.) In Invensas' view, Claim 1
of
the '873 Patent distinguishes between the"substrate" and the "masking layer." This might
be
relevant to the parties' infringement positions,
as
the "topsurface" at issue here
is
the top surface
of
the substrate, '140 Patent at 3:24, and both Invensas and Renesas haveacknowledged that the construction
of
this term relates to the infringement question
of
whether a solder mask layercovering the uppermost metal layer
of
the substrate represents
"a
top surface," (D.I.
80
at 14-15; D.l.
91
at
15).
Theparties, however, have not asked the court to construe the term "substrate." The court has addressed what representsa top surface, but any underlying dispute over what may be included
in
the "substrate" itself
is
not presently beforethe court.
2
Invensas proposes that the term "the second metal layer serves
as
a reference to" be construed
as
"thesecond metal layer comprises a ground plane for." (D.I. 77 at 5.) Renesas originally proposed that it be construed
as
"the second conductive layer
is
a voltage or ground plane between."
(Id.)
Prior to oral argument, however,Renesas "agreed to omit reference to a 'voltage plane'
in
its construction." (D.I.
120
at 2.) "Accordingly, the onlyremaining dispute
is
whether 'the second metal layer serves
as
a reference to' prohibits the presence
of
traces orother features on the second metal layer other than a ground plane."
(Id.)
Renesas argues that it does and that theclaimed layer
is
limited to a ground plane. Invensas suggests that the layer may contain elements
in
addition
to
aground plane, such
as
traces or vias.The court rejects Renesas' proposed construction.
As
an initial matter, the ordinary meaning
of
the phrase"serves as"
is
not "is." "Serves as" describes a function something may have rather than any structure to which it
is
limited.
On
its face, the present term says little about the structure
of
the second metal layer.Though Renesas does not dispute that this
is
the ordinary meaning
of
"serves as," it contends that thedoctrine
of
prosecution disclaimer supports its construction. (D.I. 90 at 11-12.) An early version
of
what eventuallyissued
as
Claim 1 provided,
in
part:wherein the second metal layer comprises a reference layer that serves as a reference to both traceson the first and third metal layers such that the reference layer substantially decreases the mutualinductance and capacitance between the signal traces on the first metal layer and substantiallydecreases the mutual inductance and capacitance between the signal traces on the third metallayer.(D.I. 90,
Ex.G,
at 7.) During prosecution and
in
response to
an
Office Action, the applicants amended thislanguage, and Claim 1 now reads:such that the second metal layer serves as a reference to traces on routing metal layers associatedwith the first and third metal layers.'140 Patent at 3:31-34. Renesas suggests that, by striking the phrase "the second metal layer comprises a referencelayer that serves
as
a reference" and replacing it with "the second metal layer serves as a reference," the applicantsdisclaimed a second metal layer with components beyond just a reference layer. (D.I. 90 at 12.)The court cannot agree. The amendment does not evidence the "clear and unmistakable disavowal
of
scope" required for the court to give it the disclaiming effect urged by Renesas.
See Grober
v.
Mako Prods., Inc.,
686 F.3d 1335,
1341
(Fed. Cir. 2012). The claim was substantially rewritten, and the removal
of
the "comprises areference layer" language may have been due to nothing more than the deletion
of
the subsequent phrase "such thatthe reference layer substantially decreases the mutual inductance and capacitance between the signal traces on the
2
 
B.
The '802 Patent
1.
The court does not construe the term "an upper surface
of
the substrate. "
3
2.
The court does not construe the term
"a
signal voltage power ring."
4
C.
The '167 Patent
1.
The method steps
of
Claims
1,
6,
11, and
12
of
the '167 Patent need not be performedin the order recited.
5
first metal layer and substantially decreases the mutual inductance and capacitance between the signal traces on thethird metal layer." (D.I. 90, Ex.
G,
at 7.) Without that later dependent phrase, the applicants may have seen littlereason
to
introduce the "reference layer" structure.
It
was not needed to describe the structure
of
the second metallayer, since the claim language already characterized that layer by its function. In other words, the decision toremove the "comprises" language might have been due not to its open-ended structural nature but to the fact that
it
was structural at all.The court, however,
is
also hesitant to adopt Invensas' proposed construction. As noted above, the presentterm describes the second metal layer
in
functional rather than structural language, making any structural definitionimperfect. Fortunately, the court believes a jury
is
capable
of
understanding the ordinary phrase "serves as." Theonly potentially confusing element
of
this term
is
the word "reference," which the court construes
as
"ground,"
in
light
of
the specification's likening
of
the two concepts.
See'
140 Patent at 31-33 ("[L]ayer 28 20 comprises a metalplane which serves
as
a reference (ground) to the traces on layer 26.").
3
After submission
of
claim construction briefing but prior to oral argument, the parties reached agreement
as
to the meaning
of
this term. (D.I.
120
at
1.)
In the absence
of
a genuine dispute, the court will not construe thisterm.
See
02
Micro Int'l.,
521
F.3d at 1360;
U.S.
Surgical
Corp.
v.
Ethicon, Inc.,
103
F.3d 1554, 1568 (Fed. Cir.1997).
4
After submission
of
claim construction briefing but prior to oral argument, the parties reached agreement
as
to the meaning
of
this term. (D.I. 120 at
1.)
In the absence
of
a genuine dispute, the court will not offer aconstruction.
See
02
Micro Int'l.,
521
F.3d at 1360;
Ethicon, Inc.,
103
F.3d at 1568.
5
The court rejects Renesas' position that the method steps
of
these claims must be performed
in
the orderrecited. The Federal Circuit has indicated that "[u]nless the steps
of
a method actually recite an order, the steps arenot ordinarily construed to require one." Under the two-part analysis explained in
Altiris,
Inc.
v.
Symantec Corp.,
318 F.3d
1363
(Fed. Cir. 2003), the court first "look[s] to the claim language to determine if,
as
a matter
of
logic orgrammar, [the steps] must be performed
in
the order written," and,
if
the claim language does not require such order,the court then "look[s] to the rest
of
the specification to determine whether it 'directly or implicitly requires such anarrow construction."'
Id
at 1369-70 (quoting
Interactive Gift Express,
Inc.
v.
Compuserve, Inc.,
256 F.3d 1323,
1343
(Fed. Cir. 2001 )).Despite Renesas' arguments to the contrary, the court does not understand the claim language itself torequire that each
of
the steps be performed
in
the recited order. For example,
as
Invensas points out, neither logicnor grammar requires steps (c) and (e)
of
Claim 1 to be performed after step (b). Rather, the identification
of
groups
of
signal traces to isolate and rows
of
solder balls to be grounded could occur during the design stage, before step(b)'s patterning
of
signal traces.Likewise, the specification neither directly nor implicitly requires performance
in
the recited order.Renesas directs the court to Figure 2, a flowchart showing the steps
of
Claim 1 occurring
in
the claimed order. In
3

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