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J.R. Simplot Co. v. McCain Foods USA, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 11, 2019

J.R. SIMPLOT COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
McCAIN FOODS USA, INC., Defendant. McCAIN FOODS LIMITED, Plaintiff,
v.
J.R. SIMPLOT COMPANY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. NYE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Defendant McCain's Motion for Partial Reconsideration of the Court's Claim Construction Order. Dkt. 70. Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motion without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to GRANT the Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Following a Markman hearing in this case, the Court issued a Memorandum Decision and Order (Dkt. 69) setting forth the construction of certain disputed terms. One of those terms was “high electric field.” The parties' respective positions are set forth below.

Disputed Term

McCain's Construction

Simplot's Construction(s)

'"a high electric field"

an electric field strong enough

An electric field between 45 and 65 V/cm to make the vegetable and/or

2. To the extent that the term 'Lhigh electric field" fruit easier to cut is not limited as indicated by the Examiner, it must be limited to between 3 0 and 75 V/cm

         In short, Simplot alleged that “high electric field” was vague and must be limited to an electric field range between 45 and 65 V/cm-or at most 30-75 V/cm-as all relevant evidence pointed to this range. McCain, on the other hand, urged the Court to forgo placing numerical limitations in any construction, but allow the definition to simply reflect the purpose of the patent-i.e. that the electric field must simply be strong enough to make the fruit or vegetable easier to cut.

         After reviewing (1) the language in the patent summary; (2) the language from the Patent Examiner; (3) McCain's internal documents; and (4) McCain's representations to the European Patent Office, the Court ultimately concluded that the evidence weighed in favor of Simplot's proposed construction and found that a limiting definition was appropriate. The Court construed “high electric field” as “an electric field between 30 and 75 V/cm.”

         McCain now asks the Court to revisit its construction of the term high electric field.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         McCain does not state a rule upon which it bases its request for relief but references in passing Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. This Rule does “permit[] a district court to reconsider and amend a previous order, ” but the Ninth Circuit instructs that the Rule offers an “extraordinary remedy, to be used sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of judicial resources.” Carroll v. Nakatani, 342 F.3d 934, 945 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting 12 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice § 59.30[4] (3d ed. 2000)).

         “[T]here are four limited grounds upon which” a district court may grant a motion for reconsideration: “(1) the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of fact or law; (2) the moving party presents newly discovered evidence; (3) reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) there is an intervening change in the law.” Coffelt v. Yordy, No. 1:16-CV-00190-CWD, 2016 WL 9724059, at *1 (D. Idaho Nov. 30, 2016) (citing Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         McCain argues that the Court erred by failing to follow Federal Circuit precedent and the “exacting standard of disavowal” set forth in Thorner v. Sony Computer ...


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