By Eric Schweibenz
On February 8, 2013, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued Order No. 21 construing the disputed terms of the asserted claims in Certain Ink Application Devices and Components Thereof and Methods of Using Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-832).

By way of background, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by MT. Derm GmbH and Nouveau Cosmetique USA, Inc. (collectively, “Complainants”) alleging violation of Section 337 by respondent T-Tech Tattoo, Inc. (“T-Tech”) in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain ink application devices that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,505,530  (the ‘530 patent).  See our March 2, 2012 post for more details on this investigation.  A Markman hearing was held on January 4, 2013.

The ‘530 patent is directed to “an ink application device for tattooing or for making permanent make-up.”  Claims 1–3, 7, 8, 19, and 20 are asserted against T-Tech.  Three claim terms required interpretation: “integrated needle drive,” “simultaneous removal of the entire disposable module from the basic module,” and “simultaneously removing the entire disposable module from the basic module.”

The first disputed claim term, “integrated needle drive,” appears in claims 1, 7, and 19 of the ‘530 patent.  Complainants argued that “integrated needle drive” should be given its plain and ordinary meaning.  Specifically, Complainants asserted that there is nothing in the specification or prosecution history that indicates an intent to limit the “integrated needle drive” to any specific structure.  Complainants averred that the only limitation on the needle drive is that it be integrated into the basic module.  Both T-Tech and the Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) argued for a construction that further defined the “integrated” limitation.  OUII sought to define the “integrated needle drive” as “a unified structure comprising all of the components required to drive a needle.”  T-Tech sought the following construction: “a needle drive that consists of different parts for driving the needles that are installed together by manufacturer.”  ALJ Bullock determined that the intrinsic evidence did not support the constructions proposed by either OUII or T-Tech.  Accordingly, ALJ Bullock construed “integrated needle drive” as a “needle drive incorporated into the basic module.”

Based on similar claim language, the parties agreed that the second and third disputed claim terms should have the same construction.  The second disputed claim term appears in claim 1 and the third disputed claim term appears in claim 19.  The dispute in both claim terms was the construction of “simultaneous.”  Complainants argued that ALJ Bullock should define “simultaneous” to mean “as a single piece.”  OUII argued that “simultaneous” should mean “at the same time.”  T-Tech sought to limit the disputed term to the following construction: “every part of the disposable module that is in contact with the basic module is to be removed from the basic module simultaneously.”  ALJ Bullock determined that the intrinsic evidence did not support T-Tech’s proposed construction.  Instead, ALJ Bullock agreed with both Complainants and OUII that “simultaneous” requires a single step.  Therefore, ALJ Bullock construed “simultaneous removal of the entire disposable module from the basic module” as “removal of the entire disposable module in a single step.”