United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON CLAIM CONSTRUCTION
F. ATLAS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
patent case is before the Court for construction of the
disputed claim terms in United States Patents No. 8, 833, 393
(“the '393 Patent”) (the
“Patent-in-Suit”), titled “Cap
Valve.” Plaintiff Deep Fix, LLC (“Deep
Fix”) alleges that Defendant Marine Well Containment
Company, LLC (“MWCC”) is infringing the
Court conducted a hearing pursuant to Markman v. Westview
Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370');">517 U.S. 370 (1996)
(“Markman hearing”), on April 3, 2019.
Based on the evidence before the Court, the arguments
presented by counsel orally and in writing, and the governing
legal authorities, the Court issues this Memorandum and Order
construing those disputed claim terms that require
Adams is the sole inventor of the cap valve covered by the
'393 Patent. Through a series of assignments, Deep Fix
asserts sole ownership of all interest in the '393
a consortium of oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil,
British Petroleum (“BP”), and others. MWCC
manufactures oil and gas well containment systems used in
well blowout situations.
an offshore well involves connecting a line from a drilling
rig, through a well bore, to an oil or gas reservoir beneath
the sea floor. See MWCC's Technical Tutorial
[Doc. # 69], p. 1');">p. 1. An uncontrolled release of high pressure
water, natural gas, and/or crude oil up into the well bore is
known as a blowout. See Id. To reduce the chances of
a blowout, a blowout preventer (“BOP”) is present
near the well during drilling operations. See Id.
Traditional BOPs seal off the area of the well bore around
the drill pipe, often using “blind shear rams” to
cut the drill pipe and seal the well. See Id. at
April 2010, a blowout and catastrophic fire occurred on the
Deepwater Horizon Rig at the Macondo well in the Gulf of
Mexico. The BOP failed, the well was not sealed, and oil
continued to flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Numerous attempts
to cap the well were unsuccessful.
the Deepwater disaster, members of the oil and gas industry
solicited ideas for a solution that would successfully seal
the well. See Complaint [Doc. # 1], ¶ 11. On
September 3, 2010, Adams filed a provisional patent
application for his cap valve invention. See id.,
¶ 14. On September 2, 2011, Adams filed a
non-provisional patent application and claimed priority based
on the provisional patent application filed in 2010. See
Id. The '393 Patent issued on September 16, 2014.
manufactures three containment systems: (1) the Subsea
Containment System; (2) the 15K PSI Capping Stack, and (3)
the 10K PSI Capping Stack (collectively, the “Accused
Devices”). Deep Fix filed this patent infringement
lawsuit on March 26, 2018, alleging that the Accused Devices
infringe the claims of the '393 Patent.
Fix filed its Opening Claim Construction Brief
(“Opening Brief”) [Doc. # 74], MWCC filed its
Responsive Brief (“Response Brief”) [Doc. # 76],
and Deep Fix filed its Claim Construction Reply Brief
(“Reply Brief”) [Doc. # 77]. The Court conducted
a Markman hearing at which the parties presented
evidence and argument regarding the proper construction of
the disputed claim terms. The Court appreciates the
parties' presentations, particularly their answers to the
Court's questions. The Court requested, however, that
Plaintiff submit additional proposed constructions for the
disputed claim terms.
the Markman hearing, the parties submitted the Joint
Submission re Claim Construction [Doc. # 117');">117],
Plaintiff's Supplemental Brief on Disputed Claim Terms
[Doc. # 118], and Defendant's Post-Markman
Hearing Brief on Claim Construction Issues [Doc. # 119].
Based on the parties' briefing, the full factual record,
and the parties' presentations and argument in connection
with the Markman hearing, the Court construes the
disputed claim terms as follows.
GENERAL LEGAL STANDARDS FOR CLAIM
is a bedrock principle of patent law that the claims of a
patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled
the right to exclude.” Aventis Pharm., Inc. v.
Amino Chems. Ltd., 5 F.3d 1363');">715 F.3d 1363, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2013)
(quoting Phillips v. AWH Corp., 5 F.3d 1303');">415 F.3d 1303, 1312
(Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc)). The patent claims in
issue must be construed as a matter of law to determine their
scope and meaning. See, e.g., Markman v. Westview
Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370');">517 U.S. 370, 390 (1996),
aff'g, 52 ...