Friday, September 07, 2012

Vita-Mix loses appeal at CAFC

Vita-Mix loses an appeal to the CAFC:

Vita-Mix Corporation (“Vita-Mix”) appeals from the district court’s final judgment in which the court con-cluded that Vita-Mix infringed the asserted claims of two United States patents, K-TEC, Inc. v. Vita-Mix Corp., Case No. 2:06-CV-0108, 2010 WL 1417862 (D. Utah Apr. 6, 2010) (“Infringement Order”), that two prior art refer-ences were not analogous art for the purposes of an obviousness analysis, K-TEC, Inc. v. Vita-Mix Corp., 729 F. Supp. 2d 1312 (D. Utah 2010) (“Analogous Art Order”), that substantial evidence supported the jury’s findings that the asserted claims were not proved invalid, that Vita-Mix’s infringement was willful, and that K-TEC, Inc. (“K-TEC”) was entitled to approximately $11 million in reasonable royalty and lost profits damages, K-TEC, Inc. v. Vita-Mix Corp., 765 F. Supp. 2d 1304 (D. Utah 2011) (“JMOL Opinion”). On appeal, Vita-Mix challenges those conclusions in addition to other rulings made by the district court during trial. Because the district court did not err in any respect and the jury’s findings were prop-erly supported, we affirm.

Of witness examination:

The court also allowed K-TEC to cross-examine Mr.
Miller based on the PTO’s statements in an office action for an application related to the Miller reference. Specifically, the court allowed K-TEC’s counsel to ask a series of “would it surprise you” questions based on the examiner’s conclusions in the office action. See J.A. 13000–07. However, K-TEC never introduced the prosecution history into evidence and the court did not allow Miller to see that history. J.A. 13001.


We agree with K-TEC that the district court properly entered summary judgment of literal infringement. In the summary judgment context, “[a] party does not manu-facture more than a merely colorable dispute simply by submitting an expert declaration asserting that some-thing is black” when no reasonable juror reviewing the evidence could reach such a conclusion. Invitrogen Corp. v. Clontech Labs., Inc., 429 F.3d 1052, 1080 (Fed. Cir. 2005). That maxim is especially true in cases involving relatively simple technology, such as this one, because “the technology will be ‘easily understandable without the need for expert explanatory testimony.’’’ Centricut, LLC v. Esab Group, Inc., 390 F.3d 1361, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2004)

Of analogous art:

To qualify as prior art for an obviousness analysis, a reference must qualify as “analogous art,” i.e., it must satisfy one of the following conditions: (1) the reference must be from the same field of endeavor; or (2) the reference must be reasonably pertinent to the particu-lar problem with which the inventor is involved. Innoven-tion Toys, LLC v. MGA Entm’t, Inc., 637 F.3d 1314, 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2011). A reference is reasonably pertinent if it, as a result of its subject matter, “logically would have commended itself to an inventor’s attention in considering his problem.” Id.

Of anticipation:

We agree with K-TEC that Vita-Mix is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law that the asserted claims are invalid. To prove that a claim is invalid for anticipation, “the accused infringer must show by clear and convincing evidence that a single prior art reference discloses each and every element of a claimed invention.” Silicon Graphics, Inc. v. ATI Techs., Inc., 607 F.3d 784, 796 (Fed. Cir. 2010). Here, K-TEC presented substantial evidence from which a jury could reasonably find that Ash does not disclose the claimed “fifth truncated wall.”

Seagate is cited:

To prevail on an allegation of willful in-fringement, the patentee must prove (1) that the accused infringer “acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent”; and (2) that this objectively defined risk was either known or so obvious that the accused infringer should have known about it. In re Seagate Tech., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc).


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