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Roto-Mix LLC v. Sioux Automation Center, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

December 27, 2017

ROTO-MIX LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SIOUX AUTOMATION CENTER, INC., Defendant. SIOUX AUTOMATION CENTER, INC., Counter Claimant,
v.
ROTO-MIX LLC, Counter Defendant.

          ORDER

          LINDA R. READE, JUDGE.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. INTRODUCTION ....................................... 2

         II. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND ......... 2

         III. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION .......................... 3

         IV. PRINCIPLES OF CLAIM CONSTRUCTION ..................... 4

         A. Claims .......................................... 4

         B. Specification ...................................... 5

         C. Prosecution History .................................. 7

         D. Extrinsic Evidence .................................. 7

         V. ANALYSIS ............................................ 9

         A. The ‘166 Patent (Claim 1) ............................. 9

         1. Proposed constructions ........................... 9

         2. The parties' arguments ........................... 9

         3. The court's construction ......................... 10

         a. “[E]ach” ................................. 10

         b. “[B]eing free from surfaces” .................... 11

         c. Summary ................................. 14

         B. The ‘166 Patent (Claim 2) and the ‘419 Patent (Claims 5 and 7) ... 15

         1. Proposed constructions .......................... 15

         2. The parties' arguments .......................... 15

         3. The court's construction ......................... 16

         C. The ‘419 Patent (Claims 1 and 6) ....................... 18

         1. Proposed constructions .......................... 18

         2. The parties' arguments .......................... 18

         3. The court's construction ......................... 19

         VI. CONCLUSION ........................................ 20

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the court for construction of the disputed claims of the two patents-in-suit: (1) Animal Feed and Industrial Mixer Having Staggered Rotor Paddles and Method for Making and Using Same, U.S. Patent No. 7, 566, 166 (filed June 26, 2006) (the “‘166 Patent”) (docket no. 26-1); and (2) Animal Feed and Industrial Mixer Having Staggered Rotor Paddles, U.S. Patent No. 8, 177, 419 (filed July 1, 2009) (the “‘419 Patent”) (docket no. 26-2).

         II. RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Roto-Mix, LLC (“Roto-Mix”) is a Kansas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Dodge City, Kansas. See Complaint (docket no. 2) ¶ 2. On June 26, 2006, Roto-Mix applied for the ‘166 Patent. See ‘166 Patent. The ‘166 Patent describes “an animal feed and industrial mixer for mixing an animal feed mixture and other industrial mixtures.” ‘166 Patent col. 2 l. 39-41. On July 28, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the ‘166 Patent. See Id. On July 1, 2009, shortly before the ‘166 Patent was issued, Roto-Mix filed a continuation application. See ‘419 Patent. On May 15, 2012, the continuation application was issued as the ‘419 Patent. Id.

         On September 21, 2016, Roto-Mix filed the present action against Defendant Sioux Automation Center, Inc. (“SAC”). SAC is an Iowa corporation with its principal place of business in Sioux Center, Iowa. See Complaint ¶ 3. Roto-Mix alleges that SAC manufactures, uses and sells products which infringe on the ‘166 Patent and the ‘419 Patent. See Id. ¶¶ 5-22. Roto-Mix alleges that it has been damaged by SAC's infringement and will continue to be damaged unless SAC is permanently enjoined from infringing its patents. See Id. ¶¶ 10, 18. Roto-Mix also seeks damages for the alleged infringements. SAC denies that it has infringed either the ‘166 Patent or the ‘419 Patent. See Answer and Counterclaims (docket no. 9) at 2-3. SAC also asserts several counterclaims against Roto-Mix. See Id. at 5-7.

         On July 3, 2017, the parties filed a “Joint Claim Construction Statement” (“Joint Statement”) (docket no. 24) identifying all disputed claim terms and providing each parties' proposed construction. On July 31, 2017, Roto-Mix filed its “Opening Brief on Claim Construction Issues” (“Roto-Mix Brief”) (docket no. 25). On that same date, SAC filed its “Opening Claim Construction Brief” (“SAC Brief”) (docket no. 26). On August 14, 2017, Roto-Mix filed a Rebuttal (“Roto-Mix Rebuttal”) (docket no. 28). On August 17, 2017, SAC filed a Rebuttal (“SAC Rebuttal”) (docket no. 30).

         On October 2, 2017, the court held a hearing pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 (1996). See October 2, 2017 Minute Entry (docket no. 32); see also Markman, 517 U.S. at 384 (stating that claim construction is a question ...


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