Oatey v. IPS (Fed. Cir. 2008)
Oatey’s asserted claim is directed to a washing machine drain with “first and second juxtaposed drain ports.” The patentee originally lost on summary judgment of noninfringement because the district court construed that element to require “two separate identifiable physical elements” and not simply a single divided drain port. Thus, the lower court agreed that the claim would cover the design showed in Figure 2 of the patent, but excluded the design shown in Figure 3.
We normally do not interpret claim terms in a way that excludes embodiments disclosed in the specification. . . . At leas[t] where claims can reasonably [be] interpreted to include a specific embodiment, it is incorrect to construe the claims to exclude that embodiment, absent probative evidence on the contrary.
Because there was no evidence of disclaimer or prosecution history estoppel, Judge Newman found that the claim must be given a broader construction.