Joseph J. Farnan: Colloquial Versus Textbook Definitions in Claim Construction

In a recent decision, district judge Joseph J. Farnan rejected a “colloquial” claim definition in favor of the “textbook” meaning:

“[T]he dispute between the parties primarily centers around whether ‘power’ should be interepreted according to its ordinary, ‘textbook’ definition or whether it should be interpreted according to a ‘colloquial’ definition, proposed by Plaintiff . . . . Plaintiff contends that a person of ordinary skill in the art, upon reading the specification . . . , would understand that the patent embraces the colloquial definition of ‘power’ . . . . Although Plaintiff correctly notes that the specification does not explicitly adopt the textbook definition of ‘power,’ the intrinsic record also does not clearly reject this textbook definition.”

Moreover, even Plaintiff’s own expert used the term in its “classic sense.” As a result, the Court rejected the colloquial use and adopted the textbook meaning.

Symbol Techs. Inc. v. Janam Techs. LLC, C.A. No. 08-340-JJF (D. Del. Mar. 31, 2009) (adopting in part magistrate’s report and recommendation).

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