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Judge Andrews Grants Summary Judgment of Non-Infringement Including Under Doctrine of Equivalents

Judge Andrews has issued an opinion granting Sony’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement that Sony’s CMOS semiconductor image sensors do not infringe L-3’s U.S. Patent No. 5,541,654. The ’654 patent includes the step of a “photovoltaic element which provides electric charge” and a step of “storing electric charge.” At the Markman hearing, Judge Andrews agreed with Sony that these two steps must be accomplished by “separate and distinct” elements. L-3 Commc’ns Corp. v. Sony Corp., et al., C.A. No. 10-734-RGA, Memo. Op. at 1-3 (D. Del. Sept. 19, 2013). At the summary judgment stage, Judge Andrews found that Sony’s accused product performed these steps at a single circuit element rather than separate and distinct elements. Thus, there was no literal infringement. Id. at 10. Judge Andrews then went on to explain that a finding of equivalence under the doctrine of equivalents would “‘overtake the statutory function of the claims in defining the scope of the patentee’s exclusive rights,’ as the claim requires two elements, not one. . . . [And a] single element is the antithesis of the requirement for two separate and distinct elements.” Id. at 11.

L-3 Commc’ns Corp. v. Sony Corp., et al., C.A. No. 10-734-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 19, 2013).

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