Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CAFC reverses D Del on summary judgment findings in Crown Packaging

This was a patent case in the area of ends for beverage cans: Crown and Rexam are both in the business of selling can ends and bodies to fillers associated with major beverage companies.

The issue of "final judgment" arose: Even so, there must be a “clear and unequivocal manifestation
by the trial court of its belief that the decision made, so far as it is concerned, is the end
of the case.” Pandrol USA, 320 F.3d at 1362–63.

The doctrine of equivalents came up: A finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents requires a showing
that the difference between the claimed invention and the accused product was
insubstantial. Graver Tank & Mfg. Co. v. Linde Air Prods. Co., 339 U.S. 605, 608
(1950). One way of doing so is by showing on a limitation by limitation basis that the
accused product performs substantially the same function in substantially the same way
with substantially the same result as each claim limitation of the patented product. See
Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 39–40 (1997). The
function-way-result test is particularly suitable for analyzing the equivalence of
mechanical devices, such as the ones at issue here. Id. at 39.

Of the previous summary judgment: Because Crown provided evidence in support of its position that the annular
reinforcing bead of claim 14 of the ’826 patent had only one function, and because we
must resolve any reasonable factual inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, we
conclude that there is a material issue of fact regarding the function of the claimed
bead. Accordingly, we reverse and remand the district court’s grant of summary
judgment of noninfringement.

The issue of patent marking arose: The law is clear that the notice provisions of § 287 do not apply where the patent
is directed to a process or method. Bandag, Inc. v. Gerrard Tire Co., 704 F.2d 1578,
1581 (Fed. Cir. 1983). In Hanson, 718 F.2d at 1082–83, we held that 35 U.S.C.
§ 287(a) did not apply where the patentee only asserted the method claims of a patent
which included both method and apparatus claims. Hanson is factually identical to this
case, and we are therefore bound by the rule of Hanson.

The D Del decision was reversed and remanded.


Post a Comment

<< Home