Docket Nos. 2014-1829
PROST, MOORE, STOLL
November 12, 2015
Brief Summary: DC grant of SJ SJ that X-Body’s Acculoader device does not infringe US 8,061,950, literally or under DOE, based on dictionary definition of “proximate end” since “‘950 patent did not contemplate a particular definition of the term”, affirmed.
Summary: ASR appealed DC grant of SJ that X-Body’s Acculoader device does not infringe US 8,061,950, literally or under DOE. The ‘950 claims require a movable “container packing system” to include “a transfer base including proximate and distal ends”, “a container packer including a proximate end, a distal end with an opening, opposite sidewalls, a floor and an interior”, a “container packer drive” including a “push blade assembly” for moving the container packer between a retracted and an extended position and a “material transfer assembly…for discharging bulk material through said container packer distal end opening”. The container packer drive also comprises “a container packer piston-and-cylinder unit connected to said transfer base proximate end and said container packer proximate end”. The DC concluded “that the ‘950 patent did not contemplate a particular definition of the term ‘proximate end’ and that the ordinary meaning applies” and, consulting Webster’s dictionary, construed the “proximate end” as “the extreme or last part lengthwise” (rejecting ASR’s proposed construction as “back half”). The DC then determined “the ‘connection point [of the container packer piston-and-cylinder unit to the container packer] is not at the proximate end’” (no literal infringement) and that the connection point was not equivalent to the “container packer proximate end” (no infringement under DOE). The FC panel opinion explained that “[t]he ultimate interpretation of a claim term, as well as interpretations of ‘evidence intrinsic to the patent” are legal conclusions reviewed de novo, while factual findings about extrinsic evidence are reviewed for clear error (Teva, US 2015). The panel found no error with the DC construction of “proximate end”, because it includes the conjunction “or” and is consistent with both the specification and “every figure” of the ‘950 patent (CVI/Beta Ventures, FC 1997 (“[P]atent drawings are highly relevant in construing the…limitations of the claims.”)) ASR argued a preferred embodiment was excluded from the DC definition, but the FC panel disagreed since the “‘last part lengthwise,’ allows for the connection point to be offset from the absolute edge.” The DC determination of no literal infringement was affirmed because, in part, X-Body’s Acculoader attaches to the floor, nearly 35% away from the extreme end” which “no reasonable jury could find” is at the claimed “proximate end”. It also found ASR had “failed to meet its burden of showing that the Acculoader performs in substantially the same way as the claimed invention” (ASR’s “attempt to establish that the Acculoader functions in substantially the same way as the claimed invention by reference only to other claim elements does not satisfy its burden on the doctrine of equivalents”, citing Warner-Jenkinson, US 1987; Brilliant Instruments, FC 2013; “[W]e find the range of equivalents does not extend to the connection point in the Acculoader.”) Thus, the DC decision was affirmed.