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Blackbird Tech LLC v. ELB Electronics, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

July 16, 2018

BLACKBIRD TECH LLC, DBA BLACKBIRD TECHNOLOGIES, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
ELB ELECTRONICS, INC., ETI SOLID STATE LIGHTING INC., FEIT ELECTRIC COMPANY INC., Defendants-Appellees

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in Nos. 1:15-cv-00056-RGA, 1:15-cv-00057-RGA, 1:15-cv-00058-RGA, 1:15-cv-00062-RGA, Judge Richard G. Andrews.

          Sean Kevin Thompson, Blackbird Technologies, Boston, MA argued for plaintiff-appellant. Represented by Wendy Verlander; Christopher Freeman, Chicago, IL; Stamatios Stamoulis, Stamoulis & Weinblatt LLC, Wilmington, DE.

          John Hintz, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, PC, New York, NY, argued for all defendants-appellees.

          Philip A. Rovner, Potter Anderson & Corroon, LLP, Wilmington, DE, for defendant-appellee ETi Solid State Lighting Inc. Also represented by Jonathan A. Choa, Alan R. Silverstein; David Peter Hochberg, Walter Haverfield LLP, Cleveland, OH.

          Before Prost, Chief Judge, Moore and Reyna, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          Moore Circuit Judge.

         Blackbird Tech LLC ("Blackbird") appeals the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware's entry of judgment of noninfringement of claim 12 of U.S. Patent No. 7, 086, 747 ("'747 patent") based on its construction of "attachment surface." Because the court erred in construing "attachment surface," we vacate and remand.

         Background

         Blackbird owns the '747 patent, which is directed to energy efficient lighting apparatuses. '747 patent at Abstract, 2:24-3:16. One embodiment, illustrated in Figure 5 below, discloses retrofitting an existing light fixture with a more energy efficient lighting apparatus. Id. at 9:1-10:28.

         (Image Omitted)

         Id. at Fig. 5. This embodiment depicts a lighting apparatus 500, which includes a housing 528 that is dimensioned to be installed to an existing ballast cover[1] (not shown). Id. at 9:12-16. The housing has an attachment surface 530 and an illumination surface 532 at opposite ends. Id. at 9:16-20. In "typical operation" the attachment surface is secured to the ballast cover of the existing light fixture through a fastening mechanism 534. Id. at 9:16-19, 9:36-51.

         Blackbird sued ELB Electronics, Inc., ETi Solid State Lighting Inc., and Feit Electric Company, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") for infringing claim 12 of the '747 patent. It recites:

12. An energy-efficient lighting apparatus for retrofit with an existing light fixture having a ballast cover, comprising:
a housing having an attachment surface and an illumination surface;
a plurality of illumination surface holes in the illumination surface;
a circuit board comprising a plurality of light-emitting diodes, wherein the circuit board is positioned adjacent the housing so that the plurality of light-emitting diodes protrude through the plurality of ...

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