WEST PALM BEACH – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently defined certain terms in a New York-based ocular telehealth company's patent dispute with a handful of its competitors.
In her 23-page order construing claim terms issued Nov. 6, U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg said her court is not obligated to construe terms that "have an ordinary meaning." However, when parties in a case raise actual dispute about proper scope of claims, the court – not a jury – must resolve that dispute, Rosenberg said.
"The court is not bound by either party's proposed construction and it may construe the claims in a way that neither party advocates," the judge said in her order. "With these principles in mind, the court now turns to the specific terms and claims at issue in this case."
The case involves litigation by 20/20 Vision Center, based in Garden City, New York, against named defendants Vision Precision Holdings, Stanton Optical Florida, T. Campen MD & Associates and M&D Optical Franchise. 20/20 Vision is suing for breach of contract, violation and misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and patent infringement.
At issue is U.S. patent No. 9,230,062, referred to in the court order as the '062 patent, issued to 20/20 Vision in January 2016.
"Intended to facilitate vision and eye health examinations, the invention described in the ‘062 patent uses a server to conduct eye examinations at a customer diagnostic center and to enable a remote eye-care practitioner to review and evaluate the patient's eye health and vision," the background portion of the order said.
20/20 Vision alleges in its second amended complaint that defendants' telemedicine-based systems for performing such exams infringe on the '062 patent.
"The parties now seek construction of various terms used in those claims," the order said.
Among terms Rosenberg construed for the parties was "equipment controller," which she defined as "a processing unit, micro-controller or computing device that receives instructions to control ophthalmic equipment." Another term the judge construed was "customer evaluation data," which she defined as "information generated by the eye-care practitioner based on a review and evaluation of customer examination data generated by the ophthalmic equipment during one or more of the eye examination tests."
Other terms construed by the judge were eye-care practitioner and audio response system.
Rosenberg also construed the phrase, "Based on the responses received from the customer via the audio response system, automatically adjusting ophthalmic equipment." The judge constued that phrase to mean "the server hardware and software is configured to automatically transform the responses received through the audio response system into instructions to adjust the ophthalmic equipment without requiring assistance from an eye care practitioner or on-site technician."