Minemyer v. B-Roc Reps., Inc., No. 07 C 1763, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 22, 2011) (Cole, Mag. J.).
Judge Cole denied defendants’ summary judgment of noninfringement. The motion was premised upon an effort to amend the construction of "approximately perpendicular" which the parties previously agrees was "approximately ninety degrees" to no more than five degrees away from a ninety-degree angle. Defendants’ accused couplers had threads at an eighty degree angle – ten degrees away from ninety degrees. But the parties had already cancelled their claim construction process because they agreed upon all constructions, including that approximately perpendicular meant approximately ninety degrees." Even if the arguments were timely, and not a "back door" attempt to avoid the Court’s schedule, defendants’ evidence did not support their construction:
- The inventor’s testimony suggested ten degrees did not meet the "approximate" modifier. But the inventor’s testimony is heavily discounted if not disregarded, in claim construction.
- The parties experts also opined that ten percent was outside "approximate." But that was evidence for the trier of fact to weight in considering infringement.
- The examiner’s use of "perpendicular" without the "approximately" modifier was irrelevant because the allowed claim contains the modifier.
Minemyer v. B-Roc Reps., Inc., No. 07 C 1763, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 27, 2009) (Cole, Mag. J.)*
Judge Cole granted summary judgment of invalidity based upon the §102(b) on-sale bar and denied summary judgment as to invalidity based upon §102(b) public use and obviousness.
Plaintiff argued that its pipe coupler patent was entitled to the priority date of its provisional application because the provisional application disclosed in the drawings the tapered threads at issue, although they were not described in the specification. The Court held that figures showing tapered threads would be sufficient, but that the figures did not show tapered threads. Plaintiff alleged that enlargements of the figures showed a 1% taper. But the Court held that the original drawing did not “convey” the tapered threads with "reasonable clarity.” Even the enlargement showed “no true tapers.” Because the provisional application did not disclose the taper, the patent’s priority date was its filing date.
The Court held that plaintiff admitted he offered the patented couplers for sale more than one year before the filing date, also known as the critical date. Plaintiff also admitted both in interrogatory responses and at deposition that his invention had been reduced to practice at the time of the offer. Plaintiff claimed that the use was experimental, but the court held that the claim was not properly supported by evidence in plaintiff’s Local Rule 56.1 statement of material facts.
Public Use Bar
The Court denied summary judgment based upon the public use bar. The alleged prior art device was asserted against other claims in defendants’ invalidity contentions, but not against the claim at issue, claim 12. Furthermore, the evidence of the alleged prior art coupler was provided by a witness that was not disclosed in defendants’ Rule 26 disclosures or their interrogatory responses. He was first identified in a subpoena at the end of fact discovery.
Defendant’s obviousness arguments were based upon the same prior art as the public use bar prior art. So, summary judgment was not appropriate for similar reasons. Additionally, defendants arguments were cursory and did not even cite case law.
* Click here for more on this case in the Blog’s archives.
Minemyer v. B-Roc Reps., Inc., No 07 C 1763, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 9, 2009) (Cole, Mag. J.).
Judge Cole granted in part defendants’ motion to extend the trial date. The Court continued the trial, but not to the early 2010 date defendants requested. Instead, the Court continued the trial until early 2011. An early 2010 trial date would have prevented plaintiff from attending the patent trial because plaintiff begins serving a one-year federal prison sentence in December 2009. The Court held that holding a trial that plaintiff would be unable to attend in person would prejudice plaintiff. Instead, the Court delayed the trial until plaintiff will be able to attend. Plaintiff argued that he would be prejudiced by the one-year delay because his damage award would be delayed an additional year. The Court, however, held that any prejudice from a delayed award was too speculative to be considered because there was no way to know that plaintiff would be awarded any damages. Additionally, the Court noted that the delay would benefit plaintiff if he ultimately prevails because his award would include an additional year of damages.