Saturday, January 15, 2022

CAFC does case involving a Detachable Magazine to a Firearm with Fixed Magazine in EVOLUSION CONCEPTS, INC. v. HOC EVENTS, INC.


Evolusion Concepts, Inc. owns U.S. Patent No. 8,756,845, titled “Method and Device for Converting Firearm with Detachable Magazine to a Firearm with Fixed Magazine.” In the main case before us, Evolusion sued Juggernaut Tactical, Inc. in the Central District of California, alleging infringement of claims 1–3 and 8–10 of the ’845 patent. On the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment regarding infringement, the district court granted Juggernaut summary judgment of non-infringement. Evolusion Concepts, Inc. v. Juggernaut Tactical, Inc., No. 8:18-cv-01378, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77792, at *27 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 5, 2020) (Juggernaut Decision). The court’s key ruling was that the term “magazine catch bar” in the asserted claims of the ’845 patent excludes a factoryinstalled magazine catch bar. Id. at *13–22. That claim construction concededly precludes literal infringement, the court held, because Juggernaut’s products use the factory installed magazine catch bar. Id. at *22–23. The court also determined that Juggernaut does not infringe under the doctrine of equivalents. Id. at *23–26.

On Evolusion’s appeal, we hold that the term “magazine catch bar” in the asserted claims includes a factoryinstalled magazine catch bar. We therefore reverse the grant of summary judgment of non-infringement, reverse the denial of summary judgment of direct infringement as to the independent claims 1 and 8, and remand for further proceedings in Appeal No. 21-1987, which is the appeal in the Juggernaut case. We also vacate and remand in Appeal No. 21-1963, which involves a separate, related case, discussed near the end of this opinion.

The main point at issue

Evolusion then sought summary judgment of direct infringement, as well as induced and contributory infringement, of claims 1–3 and 8–10. Juggernaut, for its part, moved for summary judgment of non-infringement. At that time, construction of the term “magazine catch bar” became necessary, because in Juggernaut’s products the factory-installed magazine catch bar is retained in the conversion of a firearm to one with a fixed magazine. The parties agreed that whether Juggernaut infringes independent claims 1 and 8 “depends entirely on” whether the claim phrase “magazine catch bar” includes a factoryinstalled (OEM) magazine catch bar. Juggernaut Decision at *7.

(...) We begin with the claim-construction issue presented respecting claims 1 and 8. Claim construction is ultimately a question of law, decided de novo on review, as are the intrinsic-evidence aspects of a claim-construction analysis. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 574 U.S. 318, 331 (2015). The district court relied for its claim construction in Juggernaut only on intrinsic evidence from the specification, see Juggernaut Decision at *16–22, and we therefore review the construction de novo. The question is whether the term “magazine catch bar” in the asserted claims includes a factory-installed magazine catch bar.

Of note

Juggernaut instead relies on unasserted claim 15, which, it argues, informs the meaning of “magazine catch bar” in claims 1 and 8 and precludes adopting the ordinary meaning of “magazine catch bar.” Juggernaut is correct that the meaning of the term in claims 1 and 8 could well be informed by a meaning of the term made sufficiently clear in claim 15. See Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. But Juggernaut is incorrect that the use of “magazine catch bar” in claim 15 narrows the meaning of the term to support the urged exclusion of factory-installed magazine catch bars.


Juggernaut argues, and Evolusion concedes, that the disclosed embodiments do not illustrate OEM magazine catch bars. See id., figs. 3 & 4. But that cannot make a difference in this case. We have repeatedly held that “it is not enough that the only embodiments, or all of the embodiments, contain a particular limitation to limit claims beyond their plain meaning.” Unwired Planet, LLC v. Apple, Inc., 829 F.3d 1353, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Here, nothing in the specification suggests that factory (or OEM) provenance of a bar disqualifies it from being part of the invention if, as a structural matter, it is a magazine catch bar under the ordinary meaning. And nothing in the specification suggests that factory (or OEM) installation precludes the possession of the structural features required by the invention. The specification reiterates the background principle that the claims are not limited to the illustrated embodiments. ’845 patent, col. 4, lines 46–53.


Finally, Juggernaut argues that the patent is “abundantly clear” that the invention cannot function with the OEM magazine catch assembly. Juggernaut’s Opening Br. at 8. But Juggernaut fails to cite to any portion of the specification that supports this operability assertion


We reverse the court’s grant of summary judgment of no infringement, reverse the court’s denial of summary judgment of infringement of claims 1 and 8, and remand for the district court to address the other asserted claims. Because we reverse the court’s determination of literal infringement, we need not reach the court’s determination of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. We vacate the award of attorney’s fees because Juggernaut is no longer a prevailing party, a status required to receive a fee award under 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Of the meaning of "final"

The April 14 order on its face merely denies Evolusion a judgment in its favor; it does not order any judgment against Evolusion, let alone a final judgment. Nor is the clerk-entered Rule 55(a) “default” a final judgment against Evolusion. See 15A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3914.5 & nn.1.50 & 2 (2d ed.). But, although Evolusion has not addressed the jurisdictional finality problem raised by those facts, we think it proper to treat the April 14 order as a final judgment. The order declares that Evolusion has no claim it can pursue, and in light of that declaration there was evidently nothing left to do in the litigation in district court after the April 14 order. Indeed, the clerk notified the Patent and Trademark Office of termination of the case on the same date, and the court’s official electronic docket records the case as closed. In these circumstances, we treat the April 14 order as a final judgment, which we have jurisdiction to review under 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). For the reasons set forth in our discussion of the Juggernaut case, we vacate the April 14 order in the HOC case and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.


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