By Eric Schweibenz
On July 8, 2013, ALJ Thomas B. Pender issued Order No. 13 in Certain Cases for Portable Electronic Devices (Inv. No. 337-TA-861/867).  In the Order, ALJ Pender construed various claim terms in the asserted U.S. Patent No. 8,204,561 (the ‘561 patent).

By way of background, the Complainant in this investigation is Speculative Product Design, LLC (“Speck”) and the Respondents are Anbess Electronics Co. Ltd., BodyGlove International, LLC (“BodyGlove”), Fellowes, Inc. (“Fellowes”), ROCON Digital Technology Corp., SW-Box.com, Trait Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Hongkong Wexun Ltd., En Jinn Industrial Co. Ltd., Shengda Huanqiu Shijie, Global Digital Star Industry, Ltd., JWIN Electronics Corp. d/b/a iLuv, Project Horizon, Inc. d/b/a InMotion Entertainment, Superior Communications, Inc. d/b/a PureGear (“Superior”), and Jie Sheng Technology.  The Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) is also a party to the investigation.  A Markman hearing was held on May 13, 2013.  The Order states that Speck, Fellowes, BodyGlove, Superior, and OUII participated in the hearing and submitted briefing on the disputed claim terms.

According to the Order, the ‘561 patent has 16 claims, all of which are at issue in the investigation.  The patent is entitled “One Piece Co-Formed Exterior Hard Shell Case with Elastomeric Liner for Mobile Electronic Devices.”  As a preliminary matter, ALJ Pender agreed with Speck that the level of ordinary skill in the art would include someone with an undergraduate degree (such as a Bachelor of Science) in industrial design, mechanical engineering or the equivalent with either course work in plastics or molding or 1-2 years of experience (or 2-4 years of experience without the undergraduate degree) in the manufacturing or design of molded plastic products, preferably consumer products such as accessories for portable electronic devices, or a person of similar education and experience.

The parties disputed the following claim terms in the ‘561 patent:  (1) “co-molded,” (2) “one-piece case” / ”one piece assembly,” (3) “flexible inner layer” / “exterior hard layer,” (4) “fitted cavity,” (5) “permanently filled” / “fills in,” and (6) “permanently affixed together.”

In the Order, ALJ Pender construed these disputed terms as follows.  With respect to “co-molded,” the ALJ gave the term its plain and ordinary meaning.  With respect to “one-piece case” / “one-piece assembly,” the ALJ gave the terms their plain and ordinary meanings.  With respect to “flexible inner layer” / “exterior hard layer,” the ALJ gave the terms their plain and ordinary meanings.  With respect to “fitted cavity,” the ALJ found that no construction was necessary.  With respect to “permanently filled” / “fills in,” the ALJ gave the terms their plain and ordinary meanings.  Lastly, with respect to “permanently affixed together,” the ALJ declined to address the term after finding that there was no actual dispute as to the term’s meaning.