Judge Robinson Denies Motion for New Trial Based on Alleged Error in Not Construing Term
Judge Robinson has denied motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial following jury determinations of validity and non-infringement in McKesson Automation, Inc. v. Swisslog Italia S.p.A., C.A. No. 06-028-SLR (Jan. 12, 2012). In her opinion, Judge Robinson noted that a reasonably jury could have concluded that the accused product did not infringe. Id. at 14. She also found that the defendant’s expert testimony regarding infringement and invalidity was consistent and could not be the basis for a new trial. Id. at 18.
The plaintiff also argued that “the court had a duty to construe [a] term [of the patents-in-suit] and [that] the court’s failure to do so resulted in a miscarriage of justice.” Id. at 14. This argument stemmed from the court’s prior finding that the term at issue need not be construed because the detail provided by the claim sufficiently defines the term and “‘belies any need for further construction.’” Id. at 8. The plaintiff cited the Federal Circuit’s holding in O2 Micro International Limited v. Beyond Innovation Technology Co., 521 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2008), for the proposition that where claim construction is improperly placed before the jury, the case must be remanded for a new trial. Judge Robinson rejected this argument for two reasons. “First, the court note[d] that plaintiff’s proposed construction would not have resolved the issue as it is now characterized by the plaintiff.” Id. at 17. “Second, the court emphasize[d], as it did during its [claim construction] opinion, that ‘the specific detail provided by claim 1 defines the precise nature of [the claim term at issue] and belies the need for further construction.’” Id. Judge Robinson further suggested that “even if it was error not to construe the term, it was harmless error since the jury interpreted the term in accordance with the court’s understanding (i.e., the jury did not construe the term in the restrictive fashion advocated by plaintiff).” Id. at 18 n.9. For these reasons, the court found no error requiring a new trial in “declin[ing] to adopt plaintiff’s construction and instead conclud[ing] that the detail in claim one defines the precise nature of the claim.” Id. at 17-18.