From today's opinion in Power-One, Inc. v. Artesyn Technologies, Inc., 08-1501(March 30, 2010):
Claims using relative terms such as “near” or “adapted to” are insolubly ambiguous only if they provide no guidance to those skilled in the art as to the scope of that requirement. See Datamize, 417 F.3d at 1347 (the definiteness of a claim’s terms depends on whether those terms can be given a reasonable meaning by a person of ordinary skill in the art); see, e.g., Young, 492 F.3d at 1346 (“near” not indefinite); Central Admixture Pharm. Servs., Inc. v. Advanced Cardiac Solutions, 482 F.3d 1347, 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (“adapted to” not indefinite); Verve, LLC v. Crane Cams, Inc., 311 F.3d 1116, 1120 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (same). Here, a person of ordinary skill in the field would understand the meaning of “near” and “adapted to” because the environment dictates the necessary preciseness of the terms.
[The Specification] unambiguously states that the regulator is to be placed adjacent to the corresponding load that it is powering so that low voltage/high currents will not be delivered over relatively long distances. The patent’s functionality requirement restricts the boundaries of where the regulator can be located in relation to the load it is powering. A skilled artisan in distributed power systems would know where to place the regulator to accomplish that stated objective.
[T]he fact that the claim is not defined using a precise numerical measurement does not render it incapable of providing meaningful guidance to the jury because the claim language, when taken in context of the entire patent, provides a sufficiently reasonable meaning to one skilled in the art of distributed power systems. Therefore, we find that the district court’s claim construction of the term POL regulator was adequate to fully describe the scope of the claims.
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