It’s All About Context: Claim Terms Construed Consistent With The Claimed Invention

Author: Jeffrey D. Smyth
Editor: Jeff T. Watson

In two related cases, Atlas IP, LLC v. Medtronic, Inc., Nos. 15-1071, -1105 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 29, 2015) and Atlas IP, LLC v. St. Jude Medical, Inc., No. 15-1190 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 29, 2015), the Federal Circuit resolved several claim construction issues.

In the first case, Atlas v. Medtronic, the Federal Circuit rejected Atlas’s invitation to construe “establish” according to its “plain meaning,” noting that in the context of the patent, the word must mean more than simply “initiate.”  Affirming the claim construction, the Court also affirmed the district court’s grant of SJ of noninfringement.

Regarding a second claim construction issue, the Court first noted that the district court’s construction was ambiguous on its face and rejected the district court’s reliance on the “plain meaning” of the claim language, finding that the claim language, which was itself ambiguous, did not have the decisive plain meaning the district court found.  Upon considering the claim language in context, the Court overturned the district court’s claim construction and reversed the grant of SJ of no anticipation or obviousness.

In the second case, Atlas v. St. Jude Medical, the district court granted SJ of noninfringement after finding the term “in advance” required a communication be sent before the communication cycle began.  The Federal Circuit overturned the district court’s ruling, finding that nothing in the claim language required the communication to be sent before the start of the communication cycle, and that other claims and the specification suggested information may be sent during the communication cycle.  Accordingly, the Court overturned the claim construction, vacated the SJ of noninfringement, and remanded the case for further proceedings.


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