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Zen Design Group Limited v. Scholastic Inc

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 11, 2018

ZEN DESIGN GROUP LIMITED, Plaintiff,
v.
SCHOLASTIC, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER CONSTRUING CLAIMS

          ROBERT H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the court for construction of the relevant claims in U.S. Patent No. 6, 860, 616 (“the ‘616 Patent”) pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). Plaintiff Zen Design Group Limited and Defendant Scholastic Inc. have submitted extensive briefing and the court held a claim construction hearing.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         Plaintiff is the owner of the ‘616 Patent entitled “Ultraviolet Light Writing System.” The patent purports to describe a pen capable of writing with a type of ink invisible under normal conditions, but with a tendency to fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light. To this end, the pen also includes a bulb that emits light of the requisite wavelengths to reveal the writing otherwise not visible.

         The purported inventiveness of the pen is that it eliminates a former inconvenience of writing with invisible ink-the separation of the invisible ink pen from the visualization equipment. (Dkt. # 1-2, Pg. ID 13.) The inconvenience created by this separation arose when a writer wished to review his written work intermittently, but was not able to do so easily. In order to utilize the visualization light and reveal the written ink, the writer needs to pause and put down the writing instrument. Additionally when the writing instrument and the visualization equipment were unattached, the writer may lose one piece or the other rending the remaining piece essentially useless. The ‘616 Patent eliminates this inconvenience because it has “a visualization element integrated with an invisible ink writing instrument.” (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed this action alleging that Defendant sold a suite of over fifty infringing products (the “Accused Products”). (Dkt. # 1.) Defendant filed counterclaims requesting a declaration of non-infringement and invalidity of the ‘616 Patent. (Dkt. # 9.) Pursuant to Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 (1996), the court held a claim construction hearing.

         II. CLAIMS TO BE CONSTRUED

         The parties have submitted the following phrases for construction by the court (phrases for construction are underlined, and those construed by themselves and as a part of a larger phrase are double-underlined):

         A. Claim 1

         What is claimed is:

1. A pen-light comprising: a battery holder having a distal terminus and proximal terminus;
a battery within said holder;
a switch; a light emitting diode module within said holder, said module selectively forming an electrical circuit with said battery and said switch, said light emitting diode emitting a wavelength of less than 420 nanometers;
a pen assembly having a cap end and a pen tip end, said pen assembly mateably attachable to said battery holder via both the cap end and pen tip end; and
an ink or dye refill in fluid communication with a pen tip extending from the pen tip end and fluorescing in the visible portion of the light spectrum upon exposure to light having a wavelength of less than 420 nanometers. (Dkt. # 1-2 Pg. ID 15.)

         B. Claim 7

7. The pen-light of claim 1 wherein said pen assembly is transparent or translucent.

         C. Claim 15

15. An improved writing system including a writing surface, a pen containing an ink or dye with visible light fluorescence upon exposure to a light wavelength shorter than that of the ink or dye visible fluorescence and a handheld light source that emits a wavelength stimulating visible fluorescence in the ink or dye applied to the writing surface, wherein the improvement lies in the pen and light source being integrated into a penlight comprising;
a battery holder having a distal terminus and proximal terminus;
a battery within said holder;
a switch;
a light emitting diode module within said holder, said module selectively forming an electrical circuit with said battery and said switch, said light emitting diode emitting a wavelength of less than 420 nanometers;
a pen assembly having a cap end and a pen tip end, said pen assembly mateably attachable to said battery holder via both the cap end and pen tip end; and
an ink or dye refill in fluid communication with a pen tip extending from the pen tip end and fluorescing in the visible portion of the light spectrum upon exposure to light having a wavelength of less than 420 nanometers.

         D. Claim 16

16. A pen-light ...

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