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Case 1:10-cv-00311-GMS Document 142 Filed 07/10/12 Page 1 of 9 PageID #: 4597

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE LG ELECTRONICS U.S.A., INC. and LG ELECTRONICS, INC., Plaintiffs,
V.

WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION, Defendant.

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C. A. No. 10-311 (GMS)

WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION et al., Counterclaim Plaintiffs,


V.

LG ELECTRONICS U.S.A., INC. et al. Counterclaim Defendants.

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ORDER CONSTRUING THE TERMS OF U.S. PATENT NOS. 6,082,130; 7,793,388; 7,520,139; 7,762,098 B2; 7,430,873 B2; 5,263,332; 7,386,992; 7,703.298 B2; 7,870,754 B2; AND 7,849,563 B2 After having considered the submissions of the parties and hearing oral argument on the matter, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that, as used in the asserted claims ofU.S. Patent Nos. 6,082,130 (the"' 130 patent"); 7,793,388 (the "'388 patent"); 7,520,139 (the"' 139 patent"); 7,762,098 B2 (the "'098 patent"); 7,430,873 B2 (the "'873 patent"); 5,263,332 (the "'332 patent"); 7,386,992 (the "'992 patent"); 7,703,298 B2 (the '"298 patent"); 7,870,754 B2 (the "'754 patent"); and 7,849,563 B2 (the "'563 patent"): A. The '139 Patent

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1.

The term "refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator cabinet kept at an above freezing temperature."'

2.

The term "ice compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator in which ice is made and/or stored, that is defined by one or more insulating walls."2
B.

The '098 Patent

1.

The term "refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator cabinet kept at an above freezing temperature."3

2.

The term "ice storage bin is dedicated to define a part of the cavity" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 4

'The court disagrees with Whirlpool's contention that this term should be limited to storing food items. As LG points out, the specification teaches separate compartments within a refrigerator body that include spaces where food storage is not possible. (D.I. 118 at 3.) For instance, the' 139 patent describes how a heat exchange chamber "is formed in a rear portion of the freezing chamber of the refrigerator body." '139 Patent, at col. 7, II. 3-5. The specification also describes other structural components (e.g., ducts) in the refrigerating compartment where food cannot be stored, yet they nonetheless constitute part of the refrigerating compartment. !d. at col. 7, ll. 16-22; Figs. 3, 5, and 6. Whirlpool contends that ice must both be made and stored in the ice compartment. The court disagrees. Independent claim I simply recites "an ice flow passage that enables passage ofice from within the ice compartment to the dispenser." '139 patent, at col. 11, ll. 55-56. Although the specification discloses an example of an ice compartment containing both an ice maker and an ice-storage bin, that is just one embodiment. !d. at col. 3, ll. 3438; see also Fig 3. Therefore, the court rejects Whirlpool's attempt to import this limitation from the specification into the claims. Texas Instruments, Inc. v. United States Int'/ Trade Comm 'n, 805 F.2d 1558, 1563 (Fed. Cir. 1986) ("This court has cautioned against limiting the claimed invention to preferred embodiments or specific examples in the specification."). Furthermore, the specification expressly allows for locating the ice maker and ice storage bin within different portions of the refrigerator by stating, "[t]he water supplied to the ice maker 24 is converted into ice, and the ice is delivered into the ice storage 26. The ice can be automatically or manually delivered from the ice maker 24 into the ice storage 26." '139 patent, at col 10. ll. 23-28. Since the ice may be manually delivered from the ice maker to the ice storage, a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand that these may be distinct compartments with several options for the relative orientation of the ice maker and ice-storage bin. (D.I. 118 at 4.)
3
2

See footnote 1.

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

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C.
1.

The '873 Patent

The term "refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator cabinet kept at an above freezing temperature."5

2.

The term "ice compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator in which ice is made and/or stored, that is defined by one or more insulating walls.'l6

3.

The term "that enables removal of at least a portion of the ice compartment from the refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "where a portion of the ice compartment is designed for removal from the refrigerator compartment as part of its normal use."7

4.

The term "wherein the portion of the ice compartment that is removable from the refrigerating compartment is detachably installed within the refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "where a portion of the ice compartment is designed for removal from and reinsertion into the refrigerator compartment as part of its normal use. " 8

5.

The term "removing at least a portion of the ice compartment ... including at least the ice storage bin and the [sic] at least one of the insulating walls" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 9

See footnote 1. See footnote 2.

Contrary to Whirlpool's suggestions, nothing in the specification demands that the ice compartment be uninstalled as a single unit. Rather, the specification teaches that an ice compartment can include several parts. Furthermore, the claim explicitly recites "removal of at least a portion of the ice compartment from the refrigerating compartment." '873 patent, at col. 12, II. 20-21. Thus, Whirlpool's suggested limitation is untenable.
8

See footnote 7.

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

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6.

The term "enabling removal of at least a portion of the ice compartment ... including at least the ice storage bin and the [sic] at least one of the insulating walls" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 10

D.
1.

The '298 Patent

The term "an interface ... configured to receive air" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 11

2.

The term "freezing chamber/freezing compartment" is construed to mean "a section of a refrigerator cabinet kept at a below freezing temperature." 12

3.

The term "ice compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator in which ice is made and/or stored, that is defined by one or more insulating walls." 13

4.

The term "an ice container positioned on the refrigerator door and configured to store ice made by the icemaker" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 14

10

See footnote 9.

''"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)). Furthermore, the court disagrees with Whirlpool's contention that this term is governed by 35 U.S.C. 112(6). The court finds that the language of the claim provides an adequate description of the structure and function of the interface on the door, as well as the position and relative orientation of additional ducts and interfaces. At-Site Corp. v. VSI Jnt 'I, Inc., 174 F.3d 1308, 1318 (Fed. Cir. 1999) ("according to its express terms, 112, ~ 6 governs only claim elements that do not recite sufficient structural limitations.")
12

See footnote I. See footnote 2.

13

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

14

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5.

The term "an ice container positioned in the ice compartment and configured to store ice made by the ice maker" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 15

6.

The term "a structure provided on the refrigerator door and corresponding to the ice container, the structure including an inlet configured to receive air" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 16

E.
1.

The '332 Patent

The term "a refrigerating compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator cabinet kept at an above freezing temperature." 17

2.

The term "calculating a door-opening time when a door-open and a door-close are detected" is construed to mean "calculating the amount oftime the door is open." 18

3.

The term "cooling operation" is construed to mean "operation during which a temperature inside a refrigerating compartment decreases." 19

16

Id. The court finds that 35 U.S.C. 112 does not apply. The claim recites sufficient structural limitations.

17

See footnote 1.

The court finds that Whirlpool's proposed limitation of a single method of calculation is unfounded. The claims do not limit the calculation of a door-opening time to any specific method. Rather, the claims simply require the calculation of a door-open time when certain events are detected. Calculating the difference between a dooropen time and a door-close time is just one exemplary method. However, other methods of calculation are also contemplated. For instance, the specification provides that, "[i]f a door-open is detected at the door-open discriminating step (S21 ), the fan 14 is turned off and a door-opening time detecting step (S22) for calculating the door-opening time is executed until a door-close is detected." '754 patent, at co1.5, 11. 33-37. This recited method of calculation that starts when a door-open is detected and ends when a door-close is detected would not be encompassed by Whirlpool's construction. The court rejects Whirlpool's suggested construction which seeks to limit the claim scope to a preferred embodiment. See Comark Communications, Inc. v. Harris Corp., 156 F.3d 1182, 1186 (Fed. Cir. 1998) ("[w]hile .. . claims are to be interpreted in light of the specification and with a view to ascertaining the invention, it does not follow that limitations from the specification may be read into the claims.")
19

18

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4.

The term "obtaining a reset temperature lower than said negative limit temperature in accordance with the door opening time" is construed to mean "obtaining a reset temperature based on how long the door is opened. " 20

5.

The term "determining and setting a reset temperature depending on the door-opening time, wherein the resetting temperature is lower than the negative limit temperature" is construed to mean "determining and setting a reset temperature based on how long the door is opened."21

6.

The term "executing a cooling operation until a temperature inside the refrigerator compartment reaches the reset temperature" is construed to mean "cooling the refrigerator compartment until a temperature within the refrigerating compartment reaches the temperature below the negative limit temperature.'m F. The '754 Patent

1.

The term "the cover being movable between an open position to allow access to the ice bin and a closed position to prevent cold air from leaking from the ice compartment into the fresh food compartment" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning?3

The court agrees with Whirlpool that this construction best reflects the plain meaning of this phrase, and is the construction most helpful to the jury. Furthermore, this construction is consistent with the '332 patent's specification which states that re-set temperatures are "obtained in correspondence with the door opening time." '332 patent, at col.6, II. 1-5.

20

22

See footnote 19.

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

23

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2.

The term "a cover for impeding cold air from passing from the ice compartment to the fresh food compartment" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.Z 4

3.

The term "a cover adjustable into a closed position to cover the opening" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 25

4.

The term "finger activated release to move the latch member into an unlocked position" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.Z 6

5.

The term "ice compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator in which ice is made and/or stored, that is defined by one or more insulating walls."27

6.

The term "fresh food compartment" is construed to mean "a section of the refrigerator cabinet kept at an above freezing temperature. " 28

7.

The term "an unlocked position disengaged from the catch to permit the ice bin to be removed from the ice compartment" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.Z 9

8.

The term "the cover being adjustable into an open position to permit removal of the ice bin from the ice compartment" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.30

27

See footnote 2.
See footnote I.

28

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).

29

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9.

The term "auger" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 31 G. The '130 Patent

1.

The term "a refrigerator including a freezer compartment having an access opening and a closure member for closing the access opening" is construed to mean "a refrigerator including a section of a refrigerator cabinet kept at a below-freezing temperature, having an opening that provides access to the interior and a closure member that allows access to the access opening. 32

2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

The term "auger" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.33 The term "ice crusher blade" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.34 The term "upper ice bin member" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning.35 The term "lower ice bin member" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning? 6 The term "being disposed within the freezer compartment" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning?7

The court adopts its construction from its previous claim construction Order inLG v. Whirlpool, C.A. No. 08-234 (D.I. 204, August 4, 2009). LG has not identified any evidence, intrinsic or extrinsic, that was not presented to the court during its prior claim construction analysis. Further, the reexamination ofthe '130 patent has not produced any new evidence that might compel the court to revise its analysis, or its resulting constructions. "In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).
33

32

37

/d; see also footnote 32.

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H.
1.

The '992 Patent

The term "an ice dispenser" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning? 8

I.
1.

The '388 Patent

The term "a [first/second] end insert" is construed to mean "a structure that is insertable into the end of the handle or main body member."39

2. 3.

The term "interengaging" is construed to mean "engaging or contacting.'.to The term "an aperture for receiving a fastener" is construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning. 41

J.
1.

The '563 Patent

The term "a [first/second] end insert" is construed to mean "a structure that is insertable into the end ofthe handle or main body member.'>42

Dated: July 12._, 2012

"In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)). The court rejects LG's proposed construction as attempting to impermissibly broaden the scope of the claim beyond its plain meaning. The court does not fmd support for LG's contention that this term is limited to objects "shifting or sliding" into place. (D.I. 188 at 33.) "In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314 (citing Brown v. 3M, 265 F.3d 1349, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2001)).
42
40
39

38

41

See footnote 39.