Computer Diskette Drive Communication Interface
In PC Connector Solutions LLC v. Smartdisk Corp., et al. (Fed. Cir.; May, 6, 2005) claim 1 required that the peripheral device used with the claimed coupler have "an input/output port normally connectible to a conventional computer input/output port," while claim 10 similarly required the peripheral device to have a "standard input/output port" that is "traditionally connectable to a computer." The court construed these claim limitations to require the peripheral device be connectable to a computer I/O port that was in common use at the time of filing in 1988.
Lynn E. Eccleston and Harold Wegner have described "Time of Invention for Claim Construction" as the unasked question in the pendng Phillips en banc decision. It looks like they might now have an answer. But perhaps more importantly, the court also noted such limitations essentially eliminate the need to consider any scope of equivalents:
A finding of equivalence in this case would effectively vitiate the time-related limitation on the I/O ports, if what is "normally connectible," "conventional," "traditionally connectable," and "standard" at the time of filing were deemed to be equivalent to what is "normally connectible," "conventional," "traditionally connectable," and "standard" at a future date. As a matter of law, there can be no infringement under the doctrine of equivalents "[i]f a theory of equivalence would vitiate a claim limitation." Tronzo v. Biomet, Inc., 156 F.3d 1154, 1160 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Accordingly, the district courtâ€™s failure to consider infringement under the doctrine of equivalents was, at most, harmless error.