Furthermore, when considering a summary judgment motion, a Court must view all evidence submitted in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Meyer v. Riegel Prods. Corp., 720 F.2d 303, 307 n. 2 (3d Cir. 1983). Although the summary judgment hurdle is a difficult one to meet, it is by no means insurmountable. Accordingly, the Supreme Court concluded that "[o]ne of the, principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses, and we think it should be interpreted in a way that allows it to accomplish this purpose." Celotex Corp. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
The fact that the lawsuit involves a non-infringement analysis does not render this case unsuitable for summary judgment. Summary judgment is "as appropriate in a patent case as any other" case under Rule 56(c). Avia Group Int'l, Inc. v. L.A. Gear Cal., Inc., 853 F.2d 1557, 1561 (Fed. Cir. 1988); Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Alza Corp., 864 F. Supp. 429, 432-33 (D.N.J. 1994). The Federal Court has advised, "[w]here no issue of material fact is present . . . courts should not hesitate to avoid an unnecessary trial by proceeding under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 without regard to the particular type of suit involved." Chore-Time Equip., Inc. v. Cumberland Corp., 713 F.2d 774, 778-79 (Fed. Cir. 1983).
It is with these tenets in mind that the Court considers defendant's motion and plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment.
B. Patent Infringement
A trial court is not obliged "to interpret claim[s] conclusively and finally during a preliminary injunction proceeding." Sofamor Danek Group v. DePuy-Motech, 74 F.3d 1216, 1221 (Fed. Cir. 1996). Therefore, although the Court had an opportunity to construe Claim 26 of the '140 patent in its Memorandum Opinion, that construction need not be the final interpretation.
An infringement analysis requires two separate steps. First, a court must construe the claims asserted to be infringed as a matter of law in order to establish their meaning and scope. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1995). Second, the claims as construed are then compared to the allegedly infringing device. See id. In this latter step, patent infringement may be found in either of two ways: literal infringement or infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.
Since Markman, the interpretation of patent claim terms falls within the exclusive province of the court. See id. at 967; see also Kraft Foods, Inc. v. Int'l Trading Co., 203 F.3d 1362, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2000). The standard to be applied for claim construction is what one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention would have understood the term to mean. Markman, 52 F.3d at 986. To ascertain the meaning of a patent claim, "the court should first look to the intrinsic evidence of record, i.e., the patent itself, including the claims, the specification and, if in evidence, the prosecution history." Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996); see also Markman, 52 F.3d at 979-81.
The claims of the patent establish the limits and boundaries of the patent while the specification, of which the claims are a part, contains a written description of the invention that would enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. Markman, 52 F.3d at 979-80. "For claim construction purposes, the description may act as a sort of dictionary, which explains the invention and may define terms used in the claims." Id. (quoting In re Vogel, 57 C.C.P.A. 920, 422 F.2d 438, 441 (Cust. & Pat.App. 1970)); Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582. The written description, however, "does not delimit the right to exclude. That is the function and purpose of claims." Id.
Upon consideration of the above, the Court must determine, as a matter of law, the meaning of the claim language at issue.
1. Claim Construction
The parties agree that the only claim in dispute is Claim 26, ¶ 3 of the '140 patent. That limitation describes an
inclination means connected to said frame and having
rear feet means movably attached to said frame
proximate said rear of said frame for positioning and
supporting said frame on a support surface in said
rear position, said inclination means being operable
to move said rear feet means relative to said frame
to vary the inclination of said tread base relative
to a support surface.
('140 patent, col. 22, l. 19-25).
In the Memorandum Opinion, this Court found that Claim 26, ¶ 3 describes a means-plus-function element because it uses the term "means" without specifying sufficient structure for performing the recited function. The parties do not dispute the Court's finding. Therefore, as a means-plus-function element, Claim 26, ¶ 3 must be interpreted under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6, which provides that:
[a]n element in a claim for a combination may be
expressed as a means or step for performing a
specified function without the recital of structure,
material or acts in support thereof, and such claim
shall be construed to cover the corresponding
structure, material or acts described in the
specification and equivalents thereof.