On February 12, 2010, ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued Order No. 34, construing terms of the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit in Certain Flash Memory Chips and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-664).
By way of background, the Complainants in this investigation are: Spansion, Inc. and Spansion LLC (collectively, “Spansion”). The Respondents in this investigation are: Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Samsung Electronics America, Inc.; Samsung International, Inc.; Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.; Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC; Apple Inc.; AsusTek Computer, Inc.; Asus Computer International, Inc.; Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.; Kingston Technology Co., Inc.; Kingston Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.; Kingston Technology Far East Co.; Kingston Technology Far East (Malaysia) Sdn. Bdh.; Lenovo Group Ltd.; Lenovo (US), Inc.; Lenovo (Beijing) Ltd.; International Information Products (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.; Lenovo Information Products (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.; Lenovo (Huiyang) Electronic Industrial Co., Ltd.; Shanghai Lenovo Electronic Co., Ltd.; PNY Technologies, Inc.; Research in Motion, Ltd.; Research in Motion Corporation; Sony Corporation; Sony Corporation of America; Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB; Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications (USA) Inc.; Beijing SE Putian Mobile Communications Co., Ltd.; Transcend Information, Inc.; Transcend Information, Inc. (USA); Transcend Information Inc. (Shanghai Factory); Verbatim Americas LLC; and Verbatim Corporation (collectively, “Respondents”).
The Commission instituted an investigation of this matter on December 12, 2008. A Markman hearing was held on November 10, 2009. Prior to the Markman hearing, Spansion, Respondents, and the Commission Investigative Staff (“Staff”) met and conferred in an effort to reduce the number of disputed claim terms. The parties also filed initial and reply claim construction briefs. After the hearing, the parties submitted an updated Joint Claim Construction Chart.
In the Order, ALJ Bullock construed several agreed-upon and disputed claim terms. According to the Order, ALJ Bullock construed all agreed-upon terms consistently with the parties’ proposed constructions. The disputed claim terms were construed as set forth below.
U.S. Patent No. 6,080,639
ALJ Bullock construed the following disputed terms in the ‘639 patent: “filling,” “doped/doping/dopant,” “single, essentially uniformly doped, high density plasma (HDP) oxide,” and “single phosphorous doped HDP oxide layer having an essentially uniform dopant concentration.”
With regard to “filling,” ALJ Bullock construed the term to mean “to make full, put as much as can be held into.” Further, ALJ Bullock construed “doped” to mean “having a gettering agent,” “doping” to mean “addition of a gettering agent,” and “dopant” to mean “a gettering agent.”
ALJ Bullock construed the term “single, essentially uniformly doped, high density plasma (HDP) oxide” to mean “one HDP oxide layer having essentially the same concentration of a gettering agent throughout the layer.” Similarly, “single phosphorous doped HDP oxide layer having an essentially uniform dopant concentration” was construed to mean “one HDP oxide layer having essentially the same concentration of phosphorous throughout the layer.”
U.S. Patent No. 6,380,029
ALJ Bullock construed two disputed terms in the ‘029 patent: “forming” and “over.”
Regarding “forming,” ALJ Bullock interpreted the term to mean “creating, i.e., depositing or growing excluding additional processing steps, such as patterning, annealing and etching.”
With regard to the term “over,” the ALJ found no actual dispute existed and construed “over” to mean “above.”
U.S. Patent No. 6,376,877
ALJ Bullock construed the following disputed terms contained in the ‘877 patent: “selected surface area profile,” “concave curve,” “convex curve,” and “upward concave curve.”
ALJ Bullock construed the term “selected surface area profile” to mean “the outline of one side of the STI trench oxide.”
ALJ Bullock interpreted “concave curve” to mean “a curve bent inward toward the STI,” the term “convex curve” to mean “a curve bent outward away from the STI,” and the term “upward concave curve” to mean “a curve bent inward toward the first poly layer.”
U.S. Patent No. 5,715,194
The ‘194 patent contained the following disputed terms construed by the Order: “a method of programming in a Flash memory,” “a Flash memory system,” “a first device to be programmed,” “threshold voltage of a fourth device,” “threshold voltage of a fifth device,” “adjacent to,” “ensuring that a fifth device is on,” and “ensuring that a fourth device is off.”
The terms “a method of programming in a Flash memory” and “a Flash memory system” were contained in the preambles of their respective claims. ALJ Bullock agreed with Spansion and the Staff that these terms provided neither structure nor antecedent basis for the body of the claim, should not be limiting, and should be given their ordinary meanings. The ALJ found that the specification did not support Respondents’ contention that the preambles’ plain and ordinary meaning be limited to “randomly programmable” flash memory.
The ALJ again rejected Respondents “random programming” limitation in the construction of “a first device to be programmed.” Alternatively, ALJ Bullock agreed with Spansion and the Staff that “a first device to be programmed” should be construed according to its plain and ordinary meaning.