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Berg Technology Inc. v. Foxconn International Inc.

February 23, 1999

BERG TECHNOLOGY, INC. AND BERG ELECTRONICS, INC., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
FOXCONN INTERNATIONAL, INC., AND HON HAI PRECISION INDUSTRY CO., LTD., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Before Mayer, Chief Judge, Rich, and Michel, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rich, Circuit Judge.

NOTE: Pursuant to Fed. Cir. R. 47.6, this Disposition is not citable as precedent. It is a public record. The Disposition will appear in tables published periodically.

DECISION

Berg Electronics, Inc. is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 5,324,204 (the '204 patent), and U.S. Patent No. 5,401,176 (the '176 patent), issued on a continuation of the application for the '204 patent, and licenses these patents exclusively to its wholly owned subsidiary Berg Technology, Inc. Berg Electronics, Inc. and Berg Technology, Inc. (collectively "Berg") appeal from the summary judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California holding that the electrical connectors sold by Foxconn International, Inc. and manufactured by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (collectively "Foxconn") do not infringe any of the asserted claims, namely claims 1-5, 8, and 9 of Berg's '204 patent and claims 1-7, 10-17, and 19 of Berg's '176 patent.

Because no reasonable jury could conclude that the accused device meets the limitation "storage space substantially uninterrupted by a guide member," infringement cannot lie as a matter of law, and we affirm the district court's judgment.

BACKGROUND

The '204 patent and the '176 patent share the same written description and are directed to an electrical connector device used to connect storage devices, such as a memory card or a hard disk drive package, to a personal or laptop computer. One advantage of the invention is the versatility of the connector device which enables the device to accept either a single large-size hard disk drive package, or one or two smaller-sized memory cards.

The connector device disclosed in the '204 and '176 patents has an upper and a lower storage space. Each storage space has its own contact array and at least one of the upper or lower contact arrays can interchangeably connect to a memory card or a hard disk drive package. The upper and lower storage spaces are separated by a shallow guide member running along the side of the housing. The memory cards can fit into either the upper or the lower storage spaces. The larger hard disk drive package occupies both storage spaces. Because the shallow guide member does not intrude far into the storage space, the adjacent upper and lower storage spaces can together accept the larger hard disk drive package.

Claim 1 of the '204 patent is representative of the asserted claims and is reproduced below (emphasis added on the limitations at issue):

"1. A connector device for selectively connecting at least one of a memory card and a hard disk drive package as a data storage device, comprising:"

"a housing having a pair of opposing sidewalls defining a storage space of said housing, one end of said housing defining an insertion port for inserting said at least one data storage device into at least a portion of the storage space of said housing;"

"a shallow guide member longitudinally extending along the inner side of at least one of the sidewalls of said housing to define at least upper and lower storage spaces within the storage space of said housing, the storage spaces of said housing being substantially uninterrupted by said shallow guide member; and"

"a connector section coupled to the end of said housing opposite the insertion port, said connector section having upper and lower contact arrays disposed respectively in the upper and lower storage spaces of said housing for connecting with storage devices inserted in the respective storage spaces, at least one of said upper and lower contact arrays being adapted to interchangeably connect to both a memory card and a hard disk drive package, whereby said connector device is capable of accepting a memory card in each of the upper and lower storage spaces, or alternatively, a hard disk drive package that may occupy both storage spaces."

Although the underlined limitations vary slightly in each of the independent claims, (e.g., compare the "substantially uninterrupted" language of the '204 patent with the "substantially continuous and uninterrupted" language of the '176 patent) neither party contends that the ...


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