Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Georgetown Rail prevails over Holland at the CAFC. Analysis of the preamble.

An issue in the case was the position of the accused infringer that an element in the preamble (“mounted on a vehicle for movement along the railroad track”) was a limitation of the claim. The CAFC wrote:

In the context of the entire patent, it is apparent that
the term “mounted on a vehicle for movement along the
railroad track” is meant to describe the principal intended
use of the invention but not to import a structural limitation
or to exclude from the reach of the claims an assembly
that does not include a vehicle mount. Nothing in the
specification or prosecution history states, or even suggests,
that Georgetown intended to exclude use of technology
that was structurally identical to its claimed
product but that was installed and performed analysis on
a non-vehicle mount.


The body of
the claim itself describes a “structurally complete invention,”
Rowe, 112 F.3d at 478, because it describes a closed
“system” comprised of a “light generator,” “optical receiver,”
and “processor,” which are the objects required to
perform the stated purposes of gathering and processing
data on misaligned track ties, (...) The location of the system is not an
essential feature of the invention. Indeed, as the District
Court noted, the specification states that “[t]he computer
analysis can be performed by the processing device . . .
located on the inspection vehicle. Alternatively, the
computer analysis can be performed by another computer
system having image processing software known in the
art.” Georgetown Rail I, 2014 WL 11498109, at *2−3
(quoting ’329 patent col. 7 ll. 10−14).

Of colorful language by the CAFC:

Holland argues as an example of the need to include the
preamble in the claim language that the claim terms
“plurality of images” and light generator and cameras
that are “positioned adjacent” to the track would not
make sense without the preamble. Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). This puts the caboose before the locomotive.
It is easy to imagine that the patented system could
be manually carried or pulled across tracks, and that
software configured in any type of device, on-site or off,
could process the data.

As to enhanced damages:

None of the arguments Holland makes with respect to
the findings of enhanced damages demonstrate abuse of
discretion by the District Court. The District Court made
detailed factual findings which, taken together, support
its award of enhanced damages. It did not merely look at
the jury’s finding of willfulness; rather, it applied and
considered all nine Read factors. Specifically, after ana
lyzing each Read factor individually, the District Court
stated that “[f]actors 1, 2, and 5 support enhancement;
factors 3, 4, and 7 slightly support enhancement; and
factors 6, 8, and 9 are neutral.” Georgetown Rail II, 2016
WL 3346084, at *21. It also found that “no single factor
weighs against enhancement.” Id. Finally, the District
Court took into account the degree of willfulness and
found that it was “not warranted” to enhance damages to
the full maximum statutory amount of treble damages
(over $4,500,000); rather, it awarded only an additional
$1,000,000. Id. Considering all of the Read factors and
the District Court’s statutory authority to treble damages
under § 284, the award of $1,000,000 in addition to the
damages award of $1,544,333 was not an abuse of discretion.


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