United States District Court, D. Nevada
R. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is defendant American Power Conversion Corp.'s
("APC") motion for summary judgment on the issues
of anticipation, obviousness, and non-infringement. Doc.
#287. Plaintiff Server Technology, Inc.
("STI") filed an opposition (Doc. #301) to which
APC replied (Doc. #324).
Facts and Procedural History
STI manufactures intelligent power distribution devices. STI
brought the underlying patent infringement action against
defendant APC alleging that APC's product designs
infringe three of its patents: United States Patents numbers
7, 043, 543 ("the '543 patent"), 7, 141, 461
("the '461 patent"),  and 7, 702, 771 ("the
'771 patent). Specifically, STI alleges that APC's
various products infringe claims 1-3, 6, and 15-17 of the
'543 patent; claims 1, 3, and 8 of the '461 patent;
and claims 15-17 of the '771 patent.
STI, APC manufacturers intelligent power distribution
devices. APC denies that its products infringe STI's
patents and has raised three defenses: (1) anticipation under
35 U.S.C. § 102; (2) obviousness under 35 U.S.C. §
103; and (3) non-infringement.
April 13, 2010, the court issued a Markman order
construing various disputed terms of the patents in suit.
Doc. #163. Thereafter, APC filed the present motion for
summary judgment. Doc. #287. On February 23, 2012, the court
heard argument on the motion.
The Patents Generally
patents in suit ('543, '771, and '461 patents)
describe and relate to intelligent power distribution
devices, also referred to as "intelligent
plugstrips" or "PDUs." Like an ordinary
electrical plugstrip used in a home or office, intelligent
plugstrips are primarily intended to distribute power from a
wall outlet through an input power cord to a number of power
outlets. But unlike ordinary plugstrips, intelligent
plugstrips are intended for large scale applications such as
commercial data centers and include several enhanced
features. These enhanced features enable a user to locally or
remotely control and monitor the power supply to connected
appliances such as computers, servers, routers, and other
electronic equipment through various internal relay controls.
judgment is appropriate only when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, affidavits or declarations,
stipulations, admissions, and other materials in the record
show that "there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In assessing a motion for
summary judgment, the evidence, together with all inferences
that can reasonably be drawn therefrom, must be read in the
light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); County of Tuolumne v. Sonora
Cmty. Hosp., 236 F.3d 1148, 1154 (9th Cir. 2001).
moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court
of the basis for its motion, along with evidence showing the
absence of any genuine issue of material fact. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). On those
issues for which it bears the burden of proof, the moving
party must make a showing that is "sufficient for the
court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find
other than for the moving party." Calderone v.
United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986);
see also Idema v. Dreamworks, Inc., 162 F.Supp.2d
1129, 1141 (CD. Cal. 2001).
successfully rebut a motion for summary judgment, the
non-moving party must point to facts supported by the record
which demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact. Reese
v. Jefferson Sch. Dist. No. 14J, 208 F.3d 736 (9th Cir.
2000). A "material fact" is a fact "that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). Where reasonable minds could differ on the material
facts at issue, summary judgment is not appropriate. See
v. Durang, 711 F.2d 141, 143 (9th Cir. 1983). A dispute
regarding a material fact is considered genuine "if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party." Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248. The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the party's position
is insufficient to establish a genuine dispute; there must be
evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the party.
See Id. at 252.
motion, APC seeks an order from the court (1) that asserted
claims 1, 2, 3, and 6 of the '543 patent are invalid as
anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102; (2) that asserted
claims 15, 16, and 17 of both the '543 patent and the
'771 patent are invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C. §
103; and (3) that accused APC product designs, the AP7900 and
AP8900, do not infringe asserted claims 1, 3, and 8 of the
'461 patent. Doc. #287. The court shall address each
argues that claims 1, 2, 3, and 6 of the '543 patent are
invalid as anticipated based on two pieces of prior art, the
MasterSwitch VM ("MSVM") manufactured by APC and
the RPC-21 manufactured by non-party BayTech. Doc. #287.
opposition, STI argues that the '543 patent is not
anticipated because neither identified prior art design (1)
contains a "current-related information display" in
"current-related information-determining communication,
" or (2) is a "plugstrip" as that term is used
and understood in the patent. Doc. #301.
issued patent is presumed valid by statute. 35 U.S.C. §
282. However, a patent may be held invalid as a matter of law
if it is anticipated. 35 U.S.C. § 102. A patent is
anticipated if a single reference, either printed publication
or prior use, published more than one year before the date of
the patent application, discloses, expressly or inherently,
every limitation of the claim such that a person of ordinary
skill in the art could practice the invention without
experimentation. 35 U.S.C. § 102(b); see also
Advanced Display Systems, Inc. v. Kent State Univ., 212
F.3d 1272, 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2000).
anticipating reference must describe the patented features
"with sufficient clarity and detail" such that a
person of ordinary skill in the field would recognize the
existence of the patent features in the reference. Crown
Operations Int'l v. Solutia, Inc., 289 F.3d 1367,
1375 (Fed. Cir. 2002). Moreover, "all of the elements
and limitations of the claim must be shown in a single prior
reference, arranged as in the claim." Karsten Mfg.
Corp. v. Cleveland Golf Co., 242 F.3d 1376, 1383 (Fed.
Person of Ordinary Skill in the Art
person of ordinary skill in the art is a person presumed to
think "along the line of conventional wisdom in the art
and is not one who undertakes to innovate, whether by
patient, and often expensive, systematic research or by
extraordinary insights." Standard Oil Co. v. Am.
Cyanamid Co., 774 F.2d 448, 454 (Fed. Cir. 1985). For
purposes of this motion, the parties agree that a person of
ordinary skill in the art is one who would have an electrical
or computer engineering degree (or the equivalent industry
experience) and at least one to three years of experience
designing power distribution devices.
Identified Prior Art
identifies two pieces of prior art anticipating the '543
patent: the RPC-21 and the MSVM. See Doc. #287. Both
of these products were advertised and sold in 1999,
as such, these designs pre-date the '543 patent
application of December 8, 2000, by more than one year.
concedes that the RPC-21 and MSVM are prior art references
for the purpose of the court's anticipation analysis.
Further, the parties do not distinguish between the MSVM and
the RPC-21 in addressing APC's motion. Therefore, for the
sake of simplicity, the court will analyze APC's
anticipation arguments using the MSVM design.
claim 1 of the '543 patent discloses:
electrical power distribution plugstrip connectable to one or
more electrical loads in a vertical electrical equipment
rack, the electrical power distribution plugstrip comprising
A. a vertical strip enclosure having a thickness and a length
longer than a width of the enclosure;
B. a power input penetrating said vertical strip enclosure;
C. a plurality of power outputs disposed along a face of said
length of the strip enclosure, each among the plurality of
power outputs being connectable to a corresponding one of
said one or more electrical loads;
D. a plurality of power control relays disposed in said
vertical strip enclosure, each among said plurality of power
control relays being connected to said power input and in
independent power controlling communication with one or more
corresponding power outputs among said plurality of power
E. a current-related information display disposed on said
vertical strip enclosure in current-related
information-determining communication with at least one among
said power input and said plurality outputs; and
F. a current-related information reporting system associated
with said vertical strip enclosure and being (i) in
current-related information-determining communication with at
least one among said power input and said plurality of power
outputs, and (ii) connectable in current-related information
transfer communication with a separate communications network
distal from the electrical power distribution plugstrip.
Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543 patent, Col. 10:57-11:19.
Claim 2 is a dependent claim of claim 1 and discloses:
The electrical power plugstrip of claim 1 further comprising
at least one intelligent power section disposed in the
vertical strip enclosure and in which is disposed at least
one of the plurality of power control relays.
Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543 patent, Col. 11:20-24. Claim 3
is a dependent claim of both claims 1 and 2 and discloses:
The electrical power plugstrip of claim 2 further comprising
an external power manager application external to the
vertical strip enclosure in network communication with the
intelligent power section disposed in the vertical strip
enclosure, whereby a user of the of the external power
manager may control power provided to selectable ones of said
plurality of power outputs.
Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543 patent, Col. 11:25-31.
Finally, claim 6 is a dependent claim of claim 1 and
The electrical power plugstrip of claim 1 wherein the
current-related information display is in current determining
communication with all among the plurality of power outputs
through at least one current sensing device.
Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543 patent, Col. 11:45-48.
Independent Claim 1
plain language of claim 1 requires a power distribution
plugstrip with the following limitations: (a) a vertical
strip enclosure; (b) a power input; (c) a number of outlets;
(d) remotely controllable relays associated with the outlets;
(e) a current-related information display; and (0 a current
reporting system. See Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543
patent, Col. 10:57-11:19.
motion for summary judgment, APC argues that the MSVM
includes all these limitations. See Doc. #287. STI
concedes that the MSVM meets limitations (a) through (d) of
claim 1 but argues that the MSVM does not contain (1) a
"current-related information display... in
current-related information-determining communication"
as required by limitation (e); and (2) a network device
contained within the vertical strip enclosure as required by
limitation (f). See Doc. #301. The court shall
address each argument below.
Current-related Information Display
substance, limitation (e) requires that the device contain a
display that conveys current-related information.
See Doc. #288, Exhibit 1, '543 patent, claim
1(e). During the claim construction process, the court did
not construe the phrase "current-related
information-determining communication" because the
parties agreed that "current-related
information-determining communication" meant
"communication in which current is measured."
See Doc. #94, STI's Opening Claim Construction
Brief, p.45-46; Doc. #122, APC's Response, p.39.
argues that because "current-related
information-determining communication" means
"communication in which current is measured, "
limitation (0 requires that the same measured current
information be communicated to the display. STI's
interpretation requires a numerical value that is then
transmitted and displayed, which, it argues, can only be
accomplished through a digital display. Thus, at its core,
STI's interpretation of limitation (e) requires a digital
display. As the MSVM used an LED display which did not, and
could not, display a numerical value, STI argues that it
cannot anticipate the '543 patent.
court has reviewed the documents and pleadings on file in
this matter and finds that, contrary to STI's arguments,
(1) limitation (e) does not require a digital display, and
(2) the MSVM contains a "current-related information
display... in current-related information-determining
communication." First, STI's interpretation of
limitation (e) is in direct contradiction to the court's
claim construction order. In that order, the court found that
STI's interpretation of "current-related information
display" to mean a digital display that conveyed a
numerical current value was contrary to the plain claim
language and specification of the '543 patent.
See Doc. #163, p. 21-22 ("STI's
interpretation is contrary to the terms plain meaning and
usage" and "would improperly limit the claim
language based on the specification.").
STI's attempt to salvage its argument by relying on the
word "determining" in the claim phrase is equally
unavailing. Both claims 1 and 15 of the '543 patent
require a display in "current-related
information-determining communication, " but while claim
1 discloses a display, claim 15 specifically discloses a
digital display confirming that the "determining"
language is not determinative for claim construction.
STI's attempt to limit claim 1 to require a digital
display would render the specific "digital display"
language in claim 15 meaningless. See e.g., AllVoice
Computing PLC v. Nuance Commc'ns, Inc., 504 F.3d
1236, 1247 (Fed. Cir. 2007) ("[C]laim differentiation
takes on relevance in the context of a claim construction
that would render additional, or different, language in
another independent claim superfluous.").
the court finds that the MSVM's LED display does, in
fact, display determined current information. The crux of
STI's argument is that the only kind of current
information that can be determined is a numerical value.
However, information other than a numerical value can be
"determined." For example, one can determine
whether something is hot or cold, without measuring a precise
value of temperature. Similarly, a PDU device can determine
that current is high or low, or above or below a certain
threshold, and this determined information can then be
communicated to an LED display.
it is undisputed that the MSVM's LED determines and
communicates a condition: when the PDU is operating in a
normal current condition under a pre-programmed threshold
value the LED displays a solid green indicator; when the
PDU's current draw is approaching an overload condition
the LED displays a flashing green indicator; and when the
current level has passed the overload condition the LED
displays a solid red indicator. See Doc. #310,
Exhibit 6, Bors Depo., p.47:13-18. Hence, the MSVM measures
the level of input current, determines whether the measured
input current is above or below a threshold level, and
communicates this information to the LED. Based on this
function, the court finds that the MSVM displays determined
current-related information, and therefore, meets limitation
(e) of the '543 patent.
also argues that the MSVM does not
anticipate claim 1
of the '543
patent because it is
not a "plugstrip''
as that term
is used and understood in
the '543 patent.
that claim 1 of the '543 patent discloses a single piece vertical
plugstrip that houses all identified parts
reporting system'' disclosed in limitation (f). Because it
is undisputed that the MSVM is a two*piece device that