Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dealing with an "attraction for theft"

From the CAFC decision in Clare v. Chrysler:

The ’795 and ’583 patents are directed to a hidden
storage compartment in the side of the bed of a pickup
truck. The specifications of the patents, which are identical
in relevant part, describe conventional methods for
altering the bed of a pickup truck to add storage space,
but these methods “alter the bed’s external appearance”
to give the pickup truck the “appearance of a utility bed”
with visible storage panels, handles, and locks. ’795
patent col. 1 ll. 20–40. The resulting modifications make
the pickup truck storage “an attraction for theft.” Id.
The ’795 and ’583 patents improve on the prior art by
adding storage to the bed of a pickup truck “without
altering the external appearance of the bed and without
significant reduction in the carrying capacity” of the bed.
Id. col. 1 ll. 41–44. In order to add storage space without
significantly reducing storage capacity, the storage area is
placed in the side of the bed “adjacent [to] the wheel well
area, and along the length of the bed.” Id. col. 1 ll. 45–50.
The external side panel of the truck is used to access the
storage area. Id.

The CAFC noted:

Determining literal infringement is a two-step process:
the “proper construction of the asserted claim and a
determination whether the claim as properly construed
reads on the accused product or method.” Georgia-Pac.
Corp. v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 195 F.3d 1322, 1330 (Fed. Cir.
1999). “[W]hen the district court reviews only evidence
intrinsic to the patent (the patent claims and specification[],
along with the patent’s prosecution history), the
judge’s determination will amount solely to a determination
of law, and the Court of Appeals will review that
construction de novo.” Teva Pharm. USA Inc. v. Sandoz,
Inc., ___ U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 831, 841 (2015) (italics omitted).


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