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Judge Robinson makes indefiniteness determinations in claim construction order.

Judge Sue L. Robinson recently found several claim terms indefinite in a claim construction order relating to coffee brewing machines.  Courtesy Prods., L.L.C. v. Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc., Civ. No. 13-2012-SLR (D. Del. Nov. 18, 2015).  Specifically, Judge Robinson found that the following claim terms indefinite:

  • “sufficiently large to hold one of the filter packs and the heated water while brewing without a level of the heated water rising above and overflowing the open top”
  • “sufficiently large to hold at least one of the filter packs and the heated water while brewing without a level of the heated water rising above and overflowing the open top”

These terms were found indefinite because the specification provided no information about “the variables involved (such as flow of water into and out of the reservoir and the impact of the filter pack permeability.”  “Without any detail on such variables that would influence the ‘level of the heated water,’ the court concludes that the disputed limitations are not precise enough to afford clear notice of what is claimed and do not provide reasonable certainty as to the scope of the invention.”  Id. at 5 (internal quotation marks omitted).

The Court also found the following terms indefinite:

  • “the brew baskets being inserted into the location in the beverage brewing machine”
  • “the brew baskets being individually inserted into the location during an associated brewing operating”
  • “the brewing machine heating water from the water reservoir”

These terms were found indefinite for reciting both an apparatus and a method of using that apparatus.  See IPXL Holdings, L.L.C. v. Amazon.com, Inc., 430 F.3d 1377, 1384 (Fed. Cir. 2005).  Here, Judge Robinson found that “a person of ordinary skill in the art would not understand whether the claims at bar are infringed by an apparatus capable of heating water and having brew baskets inserted or when a person actually uses the beverage brewing system to heat water and inserts a brew basket.”  Id. at 11.  The Court found five more claim terms indefinite for the same reason.

 

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