Edwards Lifesciences LLC v Cook Inc.

Edwards Lifesciences LLC v Cook Incorporated, 582 F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2009)

Facts: Edwards owned four patents pertaining to intraluminal grafts used in the treatment of aneurisms and occlusive diseases of blood vessels without requiring open surgery. The Edwards grafts worked through expansion caused by expanding a wire frame with a small balloon. Cook sold grafts that with wire frameworks compressed in a sheath that expanded naturally upon the sheath’s removal. Another company, W.L. Gore and Associates, sold devices that were similar in operation to Cook’s.

Procedural Posture: Edwards brought an infringement action against both Cook and Gore. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California construed the Edwards grafts to be intraluminal devices containing malleable wires. Cook and Gore were granted summary judgment of noninfringement reasoning that their devices contained resilient, self-expanding wires. Edwards appealed the claim constructions held by the court and its summary judgment grant.

Issue: Did the district court incorrectly construe certain of the Edwards claims and incorrectly find summary judgment in favor of noninfringement?

Preexisting Rules: 1.) CCS Fitness, Inc. v Brunswick Corp.- A court will adopt a meaning different from a claimed term’s ordinary meaning if intrinsic evidence shows that the patentee distinguished that term from prior art on the basis of a particular embodiment, expressly disclaimed subject matter, or described a particular embodiment as important to the invention.
2.) Netcraft Corp. v eBay, Inc.- Claim differentiation is a rule of thumb that does not trump the clear import of the specification when construing patent claims.
3.) Astrazeneca AB v Mut. Pharm. Co.- A clear disavowal of other products exists where the general summary or description describes a feature of the invention and criticizes other products that lack that same feature.

Reasoning: Throughout the specification, Edwards interchanges the words graft and intraluminal graft. Additionally, the specification frequently describes the invention with an intent to limit it to intraluminal devices. Therefore, the court was free to limit grafts to intraluminal devices. It is also clear that intraluminal devices must have wires based on the agreement between the parties that such devices require wires. This is further evinced by the fact that every embodiment described in the specification and shown in the drawings included wires. The inventors of the Edwards grafts, themselves disclaimed the use of resilient or self-expanding wires in their inventions. The only part of any of the Edwards devices that is excluded is a skirt portion that cannot be expanded by the balloon catheter. The claim constructions interpreted by the district court are valid and may not be modified to allow recapture of the disclaimed scope. Without this recapture, a doctrine of equivalents argument between the malleable wires used in the Edwards devices and the resilient wires used in the Cook and Gore devices cannot be raised for infringement purposes. Infringement, then, will not be applicable.

Holding: The district court’s claim construction and summary judgment ruling was affirmed.

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