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Advanced Fiber Technologies Trust v. J&L Fiber Services

January 21, 2011

ADVANCED FIBER TECHNOLOGIES TRUST, PLAINTIFF,
v.
J&L FIBER SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.



DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This action involves the alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. RE 39,940 (the "'940 patent") (Dkt. No. 45-4, Ex. A). Advanced Fiber Technologies ("AFT"), the owner of that patent, asserts that the V-Max screen cylinder ("V-Max") made by J&L Fiber Services, Inc. ("J&L") infringes upon multiple claims of the '940 patent. Complaint (Dkt. No. 1). On September 13, 2010, by Memorandum-Decision and Order (the "September Order") this Court construed eleven disputed terms and the Preamble to claim 18 of the '940 patent. Dkt. No. 114. The Court then adjudicated each party's Motion for summary judgment on the issue of infringement, denying AFT's Motion (Dkt. No. 33) and largely denying J&L's Motion (Dkt. No. 50). Each party has filed a Motion for reconsideration of aspects of the September Order. See Dkt. Nos. 115, 117.

II. BACKGROUND

The Court assumes familiarity with the underlying facts and procedural history of this action. For a detailed overview, reference is directed to the September Order.

The '940 patent includes two independent device claims, claims 1 and 10, and one independent method claim, claim 18. Of relevance to the instant Motions, claims 1 and 10 recite a "screening medium." The Court construed "screening medium" to mean "a perforated barrier through which stock is passed to remove oversized, troublesome, and unwanted particles from good fiber." September Order at 12-17. It also construed "perforated" to mean "pierced or punctured with holes." Id. at 20-21. The Court reached that construction despite a one-sentence mention in the patent specification that "a wedgewire screening plate may be used." '940 patent, Col. 11, Lns. 64-65. It did so after considering the patent's claims and prosecution history, during which AFT limited the breadth of the patent in order to avoid prior art, specifically the Gillespie (U.S. Patent No. 4,276,265). September Order at 21, 13-17.

Claim 18 describes a three-step method of manufacturing a screen for use in screening pulp. Step (a) describes "forming elongated . . . grooves in said first face"of the screening plate. Step (b) requires the "forming of openings through the bottom of the grooves in said first face and into the screening plate to terminate within the screening plate short of said second face." Step (c) calls for "forming elongated grooves in the second face of the screening plate . . . to a depth to expose the openings formed in step (b) so that the openings extend entirely through said screening plate . . . ." The Court construed the "screening plate" described in claim 18 to be equivalent to the "screening medium" described in claims 1 and 10. September Order at 9-12.

Based on these and other construed terms, the Court denied AFT's Motion for summary judgment on the issue of infringement and largely denied J&L's Motion for summary judgment on that issue. It found that the V-Max, which employs a wedgewire construction, does not literally exhibit a "screening medium." Id. at 39. Central to the Court's denial of J&L's Motion was its determination that triable issues of fact exist as to whether wedgewire might be equivalent to the '940 patent's "screening medium." Id. at 39-40.

AFT now seeks reconsideration of the Court's construction of "screening medium" and "perforated." Dkt. No. 117. J&L seeks reconsideration of the Court's determination that triable issues of fact remain on the issue of infringement. Dkt. No. 115.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Reconsideration

The standard for granting a motion for reconsideration "is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked -- matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). "[A] motion for reconsideration is not designed to accord an opportunity for the moving party, unhappy with the results, to take issue with the Court's resolution of matters considered in connection with the original motion." USA Certified Merchants, LLC v. Koebel, 273 F. Supp. 2d 501, 504 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citation omitted). Thus, reconsideration "should not be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided." Shrader, 70 F.3d 257; see also Zdanok v. Glidden Co., 327 F.2d 944, 953 (2d Cir. 1964) ("where litigants have once battled for the court's decision, they should neither be required, nor without good reason permitted, to battle for it again"). Accordingly, a court should generally refrain from revising its earlier decisions "unless there is 'an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice.'" Official Comm. of Unsecured Creditors of Color Tile, Inc. v. Coopers & Lybrand, LLP, 322 F.3d 147, 167 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Virgin v. Airways v. Nat'l Mediation Bd., 956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992)).

B. AFT's Motion for Reconsideration

AFT seeks reconsideration of the Court's construction of "screening medium," "perforated," and "pierced." It suggests that, properly construed, these terms include wedgewire. Mem. in Supp. of Pl.'s Mot. (Dkt. No. 119) ("Pl.'s MOL"). AFT makes no real attempt to show that an intervening change in the law compels reconsideration or any of these terms. Id. However, regarding the Court's construction of "screening medium," AFT asserts that the Court overlooked aspects of the '940 patent's specification, claims, and prosecution history, and that led to a legally erroneous construction. Pl.'s MOL. AFT offers nothing that would qualify as "new evidence" in support of this position. Rather, it points only to the '940 patent's claims, prosecution history, and specification, including a drawing therein, which it argues depicts a wedgewire screening medium. Id. at 5-8. Each, of course, was before the Court when it reached its prior decision and affords no basis for reconsideration. Similarly, AFT's attempt to argue for the first time that Figure 2 depicts a wedgewire construction is not appropriately considered on a motion for reconsideration. See Brown v. Middaugh, No. 96-CV-1097, 1999 WL 242662, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. April 21, 1999) ("motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means . . . to put forward additional arguments that a party could have made but neglected to make before judgment"); Assoc. Press v. U.S. Dep't of Def., 395 F. Supp. 2d 17, 20 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).*fn1

Next, AFT seeks reconsideration of the Court's construction of "perforated," arguing that the current construction results in a manifest error of law. Id. at 8. AFT asked the Court to construe that term at the July 22, 2010 Markman hearing; the Court granted that request and accepted additional filings for that purpose. See Dkt. Nos. 108, 109, 113. AFT's request for reconsideration essentially mirrors the argument that it made in its prior filing. Compare Pl.'s MOL at 8-9 with Dkt. No. 113 at 8-11. The Court will not reconsider its prior decision on the ...


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