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Judge Andrews Construes Terms of Semiconductor Patent

Judge Andrews recently issued his construction of numerous disputed terms from the 100-plus claims of Semcon Tech’s U.S. Patent No. 7,156,717. The terms construed were:
– “tracked information”
– “control parameters”
– “finishing cycle time”
– “in situ finishing information”
– “in situ process information”
– “processor to evaluate the in situ process information and the tracked information”
– “processor for processing: (i) the tracked information, and (ii) historical performance”
– “[a multiplicity of] finishing information”
– “tracked semiconductor wafer”
– “a family of stored information”
– “member [of/in] the family of stored information”
– “historical performance”
– “a first uniform region”
– “a second uniform region”
– “one uniform region”
– “heterogeneous semiconductor wafer surface”
– “heterogeneous regions of a semiconductor wafer surface”

Semcon Tech, LLC v. Micron Tech., Inc., C.A. No. 12-532-RGA, Memo. Op. at 3-19 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2014). The parties also requested construction of “several lengthy claim terms largely comprised of the terms construed above,” and Judge Andrews found that the “terms that required construction have been construed . . . [and] the remainder of the long phrases receive their plain and ordinary meaning.” Id. at 19.

Interestingly, with respect to “finishing cycle time,” the patentee acted as his own lexicographer. Because the parties disagreed about the meaning of the definition provided in the specification, however, at the Markman hearing Judge Andrews requested supplemental briefing on the necessity of construing the patent’s definition. Based on authority submitted by the defendant, Judge Andrews concluded that it was proper “if necessary to reach the correct construction, [for] a district court [to] elucidate a claim’s meaning by providing a derivative construction of a nonclaim term.” Nevertheless, such “additional judicial guidance” was not necessary to reach the construction of “finishing cycle time,” and Judge Andrews adopted the patentee’s lexicographical definition in the specification. Id. at 7-8.

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