Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Abbey v. Mercedes Benz: error by SD Florida

The Southern District of Florida applied res judicata to the claims of Abbey's US 5,359,977, a patent that issued on November 1, 1994. Abbey had asserted infringement of the claims of the '977 in a third amended complaint on Feb. 22, 1999. On Feb. 28, 1999, the district court found the claims of Abbey's '685 patent not infringed and on March 3, 1999 dismissed the third amended complaint as moot.

On Dec. 13, 2002, Abbey filed another infringement case in D NJ (asserting infringement of 3 patents, including the '977, 4,387,685 and 4,895,184, which was transferred to SD Fl. The district court dismissed the claims under a theory of res judicata (claim preclusion).

The CAFC applied Federal Circuit precedent, citing Hallco 256 F3d at 1294.

Mercedes Benz argued that a denial of leave to amend constituted res judicata.

The CAFC stated that each patent raises and independent and distinct cause of action, citing 94 F3d at 1555.

[Abbey is non-precedential]

Of patent family data,

The '977 states: This is a continuation of copending application Ser. No. 07/795,928 filed on Nov. 20, 1991, now abandoned.

The first claim of the '977 states:
A variable air metering system to provide proportional outputs from low rpm to high rpm engine operation, said outputs being linearly proportional to the mass volume of an air stream passing therethrough of an internal combustion engine producing outputs for controlling fuel in an optimum fuel-air ratio thereto throughout an extended operating range from idle rpm to full speed rpm, said fuel air metering system comprising:

a tubular casing into which air is admitted, connected to said internal combustion engine as an air supply;

a movable member coaxially mounted within said tubular casing and supported and spaced therein for downstream movement, said movable member having streamlined upstream surfaces and contours which in conjunction with the interior surface contours define an annular parabolic Venturi passage in the space between said movable member and said tubular casing, whereby the air stream admitted into the casing encompasses said member and flows through said passage exerting aerodynamic force on said movable member, displacing said member in the downstream direction;

means connected to said movable member within said tubular casing for providing a countervailing force against the downstream movement of said movable member;

means to amplify the downstream aerodynamic force on said movable member including a linkage means connected to said movable member and said countervailing force means providing a mechanical advantage greater than 1:1 between said movable member and said countervailing force means; and

fuel flow control valve means connected to said linkage means whereby a light force aerodynamically on said movable member by said air stream is amplified by said linkage means for providing a countervailing force connected to said fuel valve means thereby providing a proper amount of fuel relative to an optimum ratio of air-fuel mixture linearly, wherein the extent of movable member displacement is a result of the aerodynamic force provided by said air intake on the movable member and the countervailing force fuel flow control valve means, the displacement being an air metering output; and

wherein said metering system includes a pressure tap P2 at the throat section of the variable venturi passage in said tubular casing and displacement of said movable member by aerodynamic force and countervailing force connected to said linkage means, said displacement yielding differential air velocity pressure between upstream intake air pressure P1 and velocity pressure tap at the throat section P2, said differential air pressure P1-P2 being an air metering output proportional to mass-volume of air stream flow, means applying force equivalent of P1-P2 to linkage means and to fuel control valve means providing fuel in optimum ratio to air from idle rpm to full speed rpm of said engines.

The '685 states: This application is a continuation-in-part of my copending application Ser. No. 214,626, filed Dec. 10, 1980, (now U.S. Pat. No. 4,308,835) entitled "Closed-Loop Fluidic Control System for Internal Combustion Engine," which in turn is related to earlier-filed applications identified therein, the entire disclosure of my copending application and of the earlier-filed related applications being incorporated herein by reference.

The '184 asserts no priority.

Thus, the SD Fl dismissed as moot claims of a patent (the '977) which was not even in the same "patent family" as the patents it had previously analyzed.


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