The recent Markman ruling in Toro v. Ingersoll-Rand, 06CV3073 (D. Minn. 4/21/08), came after an earlier order “barring admission of extrinsic evidence, including expert witnesses,” citing, Inpro II, 450 F.3d 1350, 1357. No one apparently qualified as a hypothetical person of ordinary skill in walk-behind mechanics. They were either not hypothetical, or were not ordinary, but in all respects, were extraneous.
This infringement case, over “walk-behind” machinery involved yet again, the claim term “substantially.” The meaning of “providing substantially unobstructed viewing” was disputed. To clear that up, the Court ruled that “substantially” meant unobstructed or “largely” unobstructed. Mr. Roget’s bestseller was not cited.
From that point of clarity, the dispute moved on to interpret the claim term “comfortably,” as in controls that are “configured” for an operator to “comfortably reach.” The defense contention was that “comfortably” is subjective, and so, indefinite under Section 112. Surprisingly, the term was added to overcome prior art, which had controls that the operator could reach, “if at all, only by extending his arms straight out from his shoulders.” That amendment and argument was bolstered on the grounds that the “comfortably” limitation provided the (unexpected?) result of avoiding what “would be cumbersome and tiring.” The Judge concluded that “‘comfortably’ requires no construction.” That took a load off.
This weekend, try to largely enjoy, comfortably watching the Kentucky Derby from somewhere you have an unobstructed view of the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.