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Nanology Alpha LLC v. Witec Wissenschaftliche Instrumente Und Technologie Gmbh

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

November 30, 2017

NANOLOGY ALPHA LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
WITEC WISSENSCHAFTLICHE INSTRUMENTE UND TECHNOLOGIE GmbH, Defendant. Claim Term/Phrase Agreed Construction Claim Term/Phrase Agreed Construction Claim Term/Phrase Agreed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiff's Proposal Defendants' Proposal

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT W. SCHROEDER III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On September 13, 2017, the Court held a hearing to determine the proper construction of the disputed claim terms in United States Patent No. 5, 756, 997 (“the '997 Patent”). The Court has considered the arguments made by the parties at the hearing and in their claim construction briefs. Docket Nos. 40, 44, & 49.[1] The Court has also considered the intrinsic evidence and made subsidiary factual findings about the extrinsic evidence. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2005); Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015). The Court issues this Claim Construction Memorandum and Order in light of these considerations.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................ 3

         II. APPLICABLE LAW .......................................................................................................... 5

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF AGREED TERMS ...................................................................... 10

         IV. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS ................................................................... 18

A. “movement mechanism … to move the cantilever so that the tip is moved over the object” and “movement mechanism … moves the cantilever … so that the tip … is moved over the object” .................................................................... 18

         V. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................. 25

         I.BACKGROUND

         A. The '997 Patent

         The '997 Patent, filed on March 4, 1996 and issued on May 26, 1998, is titled “Scanning Probe/Optical Microscope with Modular Objective/Probe and Drive/Detector Units.” The specification states that the disclosed microscope includes a “microscope stand to support the object, a modular objective/probe unit, a modular drive/detector unit, and an optical observation head.” '997 at Abstract. The specification further states that “[t]he modular objective/probe unit is removably attached to the microscope stand and comprises a probe with a cantilever and a tip on the cantilever.” Id. The specification adds that the microscope “comprises a movement mechanism attached to the cantilever to move the cantilever so that the tip is moved over the object, ” and “further comprises objective optics.” Id.

         The specification then states that “[t]he modular detector unit is removably attached to the microscope stand and comprises detection optics optically coupled to the objective optics.” Id. The specification adds that “[t]he detection optics direct deflection detecting light to the objective optics which focus the deflection detecting light on the cantilever so that the cantilever reflects the deflection detecting light as the tip is moved over the object.” Id. The specification further states that the “objective optics direct the reflected deflection detecting light to the detection optics so that the detection optics detects the reflected deflection detecting light for measuring the deflection of the cantilever as the tip is moved over the object.” The specification next discloses that “[t]he optical observation head comprises image forming optics optically coupled to the objective optics, ” and that “[t]he image forming optics direct object observing light to the objective optics which focus the object observing light on the object so that the object reflects the object observing light.” The specification concludes that “[t]he objective optics direct the reflected object observing light to the image forming optics so that the image forming optics focus the reflected object observing light to form an image of the object for observation.”

         Claim 1 of the '997 Patent is an exemplary claim and recites the following elements (disputed term in italics):

1. A scanning probe/optical microscope for inspecting an object, the scanning probe/optical microscope comprising:
a microscope stand to support the object;
a modular objective/probe unit that are removably attachable to the microscope stand, the modular objective/probe unit comprising:
a probe comprising a cantilever and a tip on the cantilever;
a movement mechanism attached to the cantilever to move the cantilever so that the tip is moved over the object; and objective optics;
a modular detector unit that is separate from the modular objective/probe unit, is removably attachable to the
microscope stand, and comprises detection optics; and an optical observation head comprising image forming optics; wherein when the object is being inspected with the modular objective/probe unit,
(a) the modular detector unit and the modular objective/probe unit are attached to the microscope stand so that the detection optics and the imaging forming optics are both optically coupled to the objective optics,
(b) the detection optics directs deflection detecting light to the objective optics, the objective optics focusing the deflection detecting light on the cantilever so that the cantilever reflects the deflection detecting light as the tip is moved over the object, the objective optics directing the reflected deflection detecting light to the detection optics so that the detection optics detects the reflected deflection detecting light for measuring the deflection of the cantilever as the tip is moved over the object;
(c) the image forming optics directs object observing light to the objective optics, the objective optics focusing the object observing light on the object so that the object reflects the object observing light, the objective optics directing the reflected object observing light to the image forming optics so that the image forming optics focuses the reflected object observing light to form an image of the object for observation.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         A. ...


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