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When Does “On” Mean “On”? Judge Netburn Holds That It Depends.

On September 11, 2017, Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn (S.D.N.Y.) issued a claim construction ruling on, among other things, the construction of the word “on” across four different patents directed to semiconductor lasers.  In three of the four patents, the court concluded that the term on means “‘directly on or directly connected to the other element or layer, or intervening elements or layers may be present.’” 

However, the Court reached a different conclusion in connection with the forth patent. There, Judge Netburn concluded that “there appears to be no meaningful dispute with respect to the term” and construed “on” in the ‘006 Patent as “‘directly on or directly connected to the other element or layer.’”  Thus, while the construction of “on” in three of the patents allows for an intervening layers or elements, the forth patent does not.

The case is Seoul Viosys Co., Ltd. v. P3 Int’l Corp., No. 1:16-cv-06276-AJN-SN (SDNY Sept. 11, 2017) in the Southern District of New York.