Thursday, February 16, 2017

Toro loses at CAFC to MetalCraft (Scag)

In MetalCraft, Judge Moore wrote an opinion denying the appeal of Toro
concerning a preliminary injunction:

The United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin granted Metalcraft of Mayville,
Inc.’s [Scag's] motion for a preliminary injunction precluding The
Toro Company and Exmark Manufacturing Co., Inc. from
making, using, selling, and offering to sell lawnmowers
equipped with platform suspension systems that infringe
U.S. Patent No. 8,186,475 (“the ’475 patent”). We affirm.

The technical area was that of riding lawnmowers:

Metalcraft of Mayville, Inc., d/b/a Scag Power Equipment
(“Scag”), manufactures commercial riding
lawnmowers. To improve its mowers, Scag developed a
suspended operator platform, which is disclosed and
claimed in the ’475 patent.

Toro's noninfringement defense was that the accused products lacked one
claim element:

Toro did not dispute that its accused mowers meet the asserted
patent claims, except with respect to one limitation.
J.A. 374. Toro argued its accused mowers do not infringe
because the accused devices do not meet the limitation
“an entire body of an operator.” Id. It argued its mowers
lack this limitation because the steering controls of the
accused mowers are mounted to the chassis, not the
operator platform, and therefore the operator’s hands and
arms are not supported by the platform.

The reason Toro lost appears in footnote 1:

Toro relies for its claim that the district court held
that an operator’s entire body does not include an operator’s
arms or hands on one sentence in the district court’s
opinion that states “[a]ll of the accused mowers have
steering controls connected to the chassis, not the suspended
operator platform, which means that the platform
does not support the rider’s arms and hands,” to understand
that the district court made such a finding. We
decline to interpret this single sentence, located in the
middle of the court’s discussion of the parties’ arguments,
as a fact-finding. J.A. 10. We agree with Scag that this
sentence is merely part of the court’s summary of the
positions taken by each party and refers to Toro’s position.

There was a separate argument about "where" the steering controls
are mounted:

Toro also argues that the “entire body of an operator”
limitation requires the steering controls be mounted on
the operator platform or else the operator’s hands will not
be isolated from shock loads. It argues that since its
accused mowers have steering controls connected to the
chassis, its mowers do not isolate the operator’s entire
body from shock loads and therefore do not meet the
“entire body of an operator” limitation. Toro improperly
equates supporting the entire body of an operator with
isolating every aspect of an operator’s body from shock

No doubt, the ’475 patent discusses the advantages of
isolating an operator’s body from shock loads. However,
the ’475 patent treats supporting the entire body of an
operator and isolating the operator from shock loads as
two distinct aspects of the claimed invention.

Toro's argument on invalidity failed for "lack of motivation to

The district court rejected Toro’s motivation to combine
argument. It recognized that “a patent ‘composed of
several elements is not proved obvious merely by demonstrating
that each of its elements was, independently,
known in the prior art’” and that “it can be important to
identify a reason that would have prompted a person of
ordinary skill in the relevant field to combine the elements
in the way the claimed new invention does.”
J.A. 13–14 (quoting KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550
U.S. 398, 418–19 (2007)). It concluded that Toro failed to
raise a substantial question of validity, stating Toro
offered “no reason, and the Court cannot imagine one,
that a person of ordinary skill in this field would combine
a motorcycle shock with a suspended truck cab and come
up with a suspended operator platform.”


We hold that the district court’s finding that there
would not have been a motivation to combine is not clearly
erroneous. The district court correctly acknowledged
that it is not enough for Toro to merely demonstrate that
elements of the claimed invention were independently
known in the prior art. Often, every element of a claimed
invention can be found in the prior art. In re Kotzab, 217
identifies a problem that Henriksson sought to solve.
However, “knowledge of a problem and motivation to
solve it are entirely different from motivation to combine
particular references.” Innogenetics, N.V. v. Abbott Labs.,
512 F.3d 1363, 1373 (Fed. Cir. 2008).
We agree with the district court that Toro provides no
explanation or reasoning for concluding that one of skill in
the art would have combined these particular references
to produce the claimed invention. Without any explanation
as to how or why the references would be combined to
arrive at the claimed invention, we are left with only
hindsight bias that KSR warns against. See KSR, 550
U.S. at 421. And while we understand that “[t]he obviousness
analysis cannot be confined by a formalistic
conception of the words teaching, suggestion, and motivation,”
we also recognize that we cannot allow hindsight
bias to be the thread that stitches together prior art
patches into something that is the claimed invention.

The CAFC did not address the anticipation issue:

We decline to address the anticipation issue. A party
may establish a likelihood of success by showing that at
least one valid and enforceable patent claim is likely to be
infringed. Abbott Labs. v. Andrx Pharm., Inc., 473 F.3d
1196, 1201 (Fed. Cir. 2007). Because asserted claim 21
covers the accused products and because we conclude that
the district court did not abuse its discretion in determin-
ing that Metalcraft established a likelihood of success as
to infringement and validity with respect to claim 21, we
need not reach the anticipation arguments regarding
claims 11 and 14 to sustain the injunction as to claim 21
which reaches all of the accused products.


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