Like the '215 patent, the RS-360 contains a two-piece brushgear
design. Unlike the '215 brushgear, however, the RS-360 does not
use lateral projections to join the terminal strip and the
commutator contactor strip. See Tr. 104. Rather, an opening is
cut in the middle of the terminal strip and the pieces cut out of
the terminal strip are then bent around the commutator contactor
strip. See id. at 56-57, 104. As a result of this process, the
two pieces are aligned perpendicularly. See id. After the two
pieces are joined, the brushgear is attached to a plastic column
on the motor case cover by means of a screw. See id. at 54,
104. Once mounted, the brushgear's terminal strip extends axially
through the case cover. See id. at 104-105.
At the time he applied for the '215 patent, Mr. Mabuchi was
obviously aware of his own design for the RS-360 motor's
brushgear. See Tr. 48-49. In the course of his application that
culminated in the '215 patent, however, Mr. Mabuchi disclosed to
the PTO only the old FC-type motor design employing a one-piece
brushgear, as well as another motor type with a similar brushgear
design. See id. at 49. At the Markman hearing, Mr. Mabuchi
testified that he disclosed the FC-motor design because he
believed that there was a very close relationship between the
brushholders in the FC-type motors and the design taught in the
'215 patent. See id. at 49-50. Mr. Mabuchi further stated that
he did not disclose the RS-360 brushgear design because he
considered it totally unrelated to the FC-type motors and the
'215 patent in its manner of assembly and installation. See id.
Because the language of a patent's claims determine the scope
of the monopoly granted to the patent holder, the first step in
any patent litigation is for the Court to determine the proper
construction of the claims in suit. Claim construction is a
question of law to be decided by the Court. See Markman v.
Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 388-89, 116 S.Ct. 1384,
134 L.Ed.2d 577 (1996). To interpret the claims of a patent, the
Court considers the language of the claims in light of the
patent's specification, the prosecution history, and, in
appropriate cases, extrinsic evidence. See Markman v. Westview
Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979-81 (Fed.Cir. 1995) (en
banc). A court will ascribe to the language of a claim the
meaning that one skilled in the art would ordinarily ascribe
unless the inventor sets forth a specific alternative meaning in
the specification. See Intellicall, Inc. v. Phonometrics, Inc.,
952 F.2d 1384, 1387-88 (Fed.Cir. 1992); Fromson v. Advance
Offset Plate, Inc., 720 F.2d 1565, 1571 (Fed.Cir. 1983).
Mabuchi Motor requested a Markman hearing in order to
construe the scope of claims 10 and 11 of the '215 patent.
Mabuchi Motor also sought to adduce additional testimony relating
to Johnson's claim of inequitable conduct.
Claims 10 and 11 are dependent upon claim 1 and thus have as a
common element the entire text of claim 1.*fn6 The only disputed
issue of claim construction arises with respect to the text of
claim 1, which has been reproduced in its entirety in the margin.
See footnote 3, supra. The four elements that require
construction by this Court are:
• "brush supporting means provided on a case cover of
the motor case for supporting said brush arm."
See U.S. Patent No. '215, col. 4, ln. 23
• "terminal portion adapted to extend through a motor
case." See id., col. 4, ln. 16 ("subparagraph
• "plurality of projections formed by extending the
strip." See id., col. 4, ln. 25 ("subsection
• "projections being bent and crimped, . . . to join
said terminal and commutator contactor strip
together into one piece." See id. col. 4, ln. 26