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Category Archives: Summary Judgment

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Fair Use & Likelihood of Confusion Doom Lanham Act Claims

Posted in Summary Judgment

Sorenson v. WD-40 Co., No. 12 C 50417, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 9, 2014) (Kapala, J.).

Judge Kapala granted defendant WD-40 summary judgment as to plaintiff’s Lanham Act and related state law claims regarding plaintiff’s THE INHIBITOR and related design marks (the “Inhibitor Marks”) and WD-40′s Specialist product line.

WD-40′s use of the word “inhibitor” in connection with its Specialist products was fair use:

  • It was not used as a trademark, as evidenced by the emphasis of WD-40′s well know marks on the front of the product over the use of the term “inhibitor.”
  • Inhibitor was descriptive of the WD-40 product which was intended to inhibit rust.
  • There was a lack of evidence that WD-40 used the term in bad faith.

WD-40 was, therefore, granted summary judgment as to plaintiff’s Lanham Act claim.  WD-40 was also granted summary judgment that there was no likelihood of confusion:

  • Looking at the usage of the marks as a whole, plaintiff lacked sufficient evidence to show similarity of use.
  • Plaintiff’s oil products were not similar to WD-40′s Specialist products.
  • There was limited evidence of concurrent use, but not enough to weigh in plaintiff’s favor.
  • There was some evidence of a low degree of care by consumers, but it was mitigated by the strength of WD-40′s marks.
  • Plaintiff’s Inhibitor Marks were relatively weak because they were descriptive of the product.
  • There was not sufficient evidence of actual confusion.  The testimony by one individual that he believed that the products could be co-branded even if it were assumed to be evidence actual confusion, was insufficient because it was de minimus.
  • There was not sufficient evidence that WD-40 intended to pass off its products as plaintiff’s to support plaintiff’s burden.

Having granted summary judgment as to the Lanham Act claims, the Court granted summary judgment as to the state law claims based upon the Court’s likelihood of confusion analysis.  As an interesting side note, the opinion identifies evidence in the suit suggesting that four out of five people have used WD-40.  That is a pretty amazing statistic.

Plaintiff May Not Dismiss Claims in Response to Summary Judgment Motion

Posted in Summary Judgment

Beasley v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 12 C 8715, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 9, 2014) (St. Eve, J.).

Judge St. Eve, after previously deferring ruling to allow the parties to work out procedural disputes, granted defendant John Wiley & Sons’ motion for summary judgment as to plaintiff’s fraud and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) claims, having previously granted plaintiff summary judgment of copyright infringement regarding its photographs.  Because plaintiff offered no evidence in response to the motion that would allow a reasonable jury to find that defendant misrepresented plaintiff’s copyright or removed copyright-management information from the photographs, the Court granted defendant summary judgment as to both claims.  Allowing plaintiff to dismiss those claims as it proposed would have been unfair to defendant because it would have prevented defendant from seeking fees as to the DMCA claim.  And plaintiff’s request was too late, coming late in the case and in response to a summary judgment motion.

Patent Exhaustion Applies Despite License Restrictions

Posted in Summary Judgment

Cascades Computer Innovation, LLC v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Nos. 11 C 4574 & 11 C 6235, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 14, 2014) (Kennelly, J.).

Judge Kennelly granted in part defendants Samsung’s and HTC’s motions for summary judgment of patent exhaustion based upon a prior settlement agreement that plaintiff Cascades Computer Innovation (“Cascades”) previously entered with Google, the parent of Motorola Mobility who was previously a defendant in a related suit.  This patent case involves a method for implementing software meant for one computer architecture on another computer architecture.  Defendants were accused based upon the alleged use of the Dalvik Virtual Machine.

The license covered:

“Google Products” including, among others, “all Motorola and Nexus devices, but . . . excludes mobile devices manufactured by third parties and running the Android OS except any Nexus-branded devices.

The license also provided a release and a covenant not to sue.  The release provided that:

Cascades releases and discharges Google, Motorola, Google Affiliates, Google Partners . . . from any and all claims, demands, debts, liabilities, actions, causes of actions or suits of whatever kind of nature, asserted or not asserted, known or unknown, arising out of the claims or matters that have been or could have been asserted by Cascades in the Actions relating to the same facts and circumstances therein, provided that such release and discharge shall not extend to any other defendant in the Actions. 

The covenant not to sue states that

Cascades covenants not to sue Google, Motorola, Google Affiliates and/or Google Partners for any infringement or any other violation of the Cascades Patents based upon any licensed activity, permitted pursuant to this Section, related to any Google Product; provided this covenant does not extend to any other defendant in the Patent Suit.

Google provided the Android operating system to numerous entities, including Samsung and HTC, as open source code, including the Dalvik Virtual Machine.  Looking to the Supreme Court’s Quanta decision, the Court held that because the license authorized Google to convey the Android operating system to others, including Samsung and HTC, the additional restrictions in the license grant were not allowed because they sought to “circumvent the patent exhaustion doctrine and reap multiple gains from a single sale.”

Having determined that there was an authorized sale pursuant to the Google license, the Court turned to the other patent exhaustion factors.  The Court held that there were no reasonable noninfringing uses.  While one Android version, KitKat, allied a user to switch off the Dalvik Virtual Machine in favor of Android Run Time, the Android website expressly warned users against doing so because making the switch runs the risk of malfunctions.  The Court, therefore, granted defendants’ motion for patent exhaustion from the date of the Google license forward.

The Court then turned to use before the Google license agreement was executed.  Holding that the release and covenant not to sue were personal to Google and Motorola and backward looking, the Court held that patent exhaustion did not flow from the release or covenant not to sue before the date of the Google license.  The Court did, however, note that some courts had disagreed holding that a backward looking covenant not to sue exhausted patents.

Permissible Repair Doctrine Applies Where Patentee Recommends Changing the Accused Part

Posted in Summary Judgment

Robert Bosch LLC v. Trico Prods Corp., No. 12 C 437, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 21, 2014) (Grady, Sen. J.).

Judge Grady denied defendants’ (collectively “Trico”) motion for summary judgment of noninfringement with respect to Trico’s Duralast Flex Blade windshield wiper blade in this patent infringement dispute.  

As an initial matter, the Court held that a first sale in the United States is still required for patent exhaustion, even if a US first sale is not required for copyright exhaustion.  

To the extent that plaintiff Robert Bosch (“Bosch”) sold some wiper blades in the US, the Court addressed whether Trico’s acts fell within the doctrine of permissible repair.  The Court held that a consumer replacing the wiper blade in a wiper assembly with a Trico wiper blade was a permissible repair, noting that Bosch recommended replacing the blades every six months.  The Court also noted that there was an established market for replacement wiper blades.  But the Court withheld ruling upon the issue until there was a more developed record regarding the differences between patent claims that covered the entire wiper system and other claims that allegedly covered just the wiper blades, as well as related case law.

The Court held that there was not sufficient evidence that Bosch’s acquisition of Unipoint, from whom Trico purchased the accused products, prevented Bosch’s claims to pre-acquisition sales to Trico.  Trico failed to provide the relevant language of the acquisition agreements to determine whether the agreements prevented suits against customers.  And Trico did not support or sufficiently develop its theory that Bosch benefited from Unipoint’s pre-acquisition sales to Trico and therefore should be barred from suit.  The Court, therefore, denied the motion.

Descriptive Trademark Does Not Survive Summary Judgment

Posted in Summary Judgment

Box Acquisitions, LLC d/b/a Box Partners, LLC v. Box Packaging Prods., LLC, No. 12 C 4021, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 26, 2014) (Kocoras, J.).

The Court granted summary judgment for defendant in this Lanham Act case involving alleged trademark infringement regarding plaintiff’s BOX PACKAGING trademarks.  The “key issue” was whether BOX PACKAGING was a protectable mark or was unprotectable as a descriptive term that has not acquired sufficient secondary meaning.

The Court held that BOX PACKAGING was descriptive as a matter of law.  No imagination was required to connect BOX PACKAGING to the box and packaging services offered by plaintiff.  The fact that plaintiff did more than just distribute boxes and packaging did not sway the Court because all of plaintiff’s services encompass boxing and packaging somehow.  The Court was also swayed by how other companies used “Box Packaging” within the industry.  The fact that BOX PACKAGING is not defined in the dictionary was not enough to avoid summary judgment of descriptiveness.

Regarding secondary meaning, plaintiff did not offer any direct evidence, which comes from consumer testimony or consumer surveys.  The Court, therefore, turned to the circumstantial evidence.  Plaintiffs use of BOX PACKAGING was not exclusive, many others used the phrase.  And the fact that plaintiff largely stopped using BOX PACKAGING in favor of BOX PARTNERs weighed against a finding of secondary meaning. 

Furthermore, plaintiff offered no evidence of advertising or sales figures to support secondary meaning based upon such expenditures.  The Court also held that plaintiff’s evidence of intentional copying was weakened because plaintiff chose a descriptive mark. 

Plaintiff’s proof of actual confusion was insufficient because plaintiff could not identify the customers that allegedly expressed confusion.

The Court granted summary judgment regarding plaintiff’s claims that defendant sought to fraudulently register its trademark because there were several other entities using versions of the mark.  So, the fact that defendants were aware of plaintiff did not suggest that defendants could not register their marks. 

The Court also granted summary judgment as to defendant’s purchase of various “boxpackaging” domain names because plaintiff was not actively using BOX PACKAGING at the time, noting that had defendants acted when plaintiff was actively using the mark the result “could have been vastly different.”

Late Damages Theory Allowed Based Upon Lack of Prejudice

Posted in Summary Judgment, Trial

NanoChem Sol’ns, Inc. v. Global Green Prods., LLC., No. 10 C 5686, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 10, 2013) (Hart, Sen. J.).

Judge Hart denied defendants’ motion in limine to exclude plaintiff NanoChem’s late-disclosed lost profit damages analysis.  The Court also granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to NanoChem’s Lanham Act and Illinois state law unfair competition claims.

During discovery, NanoChem stated that it would seek a reasonable royalty for its patent claims without providing a calculation.  In response to defendant’s motion, NanoChem provided a lost profit calculation.  While the calculation was late, defendants were not prejudiced because the final pre-trial order had not been filed yet and NanoChem did not rely upon an expert.  But NanoChem was limited to the offered calculation and no other damages theories.

The Court granted defendants summary judgment as to NanoChem’s Lanham Act and Illinois unfair completion claims.  Each claim required that NanoChem prove that its A-5D mark had acquired secondary meaning.  Because NanoChem did not offer evidence supporting secondary meaning, the Court granted defendants summary judgment.

Trade Secret Claims Dismissed for Lack of Evidence of Unique, Non-Public Information

Posted in Summary Judgment

Spitz v. Proven Winners N. Am., LLC, No. 11 C 3997, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 22, 2013) (Hart, Sen. J.).

Judge Hart granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment in this trade secret case involving alleged trade secrets identifying pet-friendly plants.  Plaintiff alleged that defendants used plaintiff’s trade secret identification of pet-friendly plants without paying the agreed upon $.02 per pet-friendly plant sold.  As an initial matter, the Court denied to strike either parties Local Rule 56.1 statements or responses.  Each party claimed that the other did not comply with various portions of Local Rule 56.1, but to the extent the Court was able to understand and use the statements, it would do so without striking any party’s statements.  The Court did, however, disregard extraneous facts included in plaintiff’s responses to defendants’ statements of fact, instead of in a Local Rule 56.1 additional statement of facts.

The Court held that plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence that defendants’ association of a pet-friendly label with certain plants on its website came from plaintiffs’ trade secret information.  Instead, the evidence suggested that the information was publicly available.  The Court also granted defendants summary judgment as to plaintiff’s other non-IP contract and tort claims, but I will not detail those because they do not have significant IP implications.

Limited Generic Use Does Not Render A Mark Generic

Posted in Summary Judgment

Timelines, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., No. 11 C 6867, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. April 1, 2012) (Darrah, J.).

Judge Darrah denied defendant Facebook’s summary judgment motion arguing that plaintiff Timeline’s TIMELINE trademark was generic or descriptive, and that Facebook’s use of the mark was fair use.  Timelines presented evidence that it used TIMELINE as a brand, not just in its generic sense.  And while Timelines had used TIMELINE in its generic sense, it had not done so regularly so as to make the mark generic.  And Facebook’s summary evidence was not dispositive as to descriptiveness.  Timelines had over one thousand active users.  The Court reasoned that as to the users, at least, TIMELINE had acquired meaning.

Finally, Facebook’s use of TIMELINE was not just non-trademark fair use.  In fact, Facebook’s founder referred to TIMELINE as a brand.

Akamai Reverses (Another) Summary Judgment Decision

Posted in Summary Judgment

CIVIX-DDI, LLC v. Hotels.com, No. 05 C 6869, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 1, 2012) (St. Eve, J.).

Judge St. Eve granted plaintiff CIVIX-DDI’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b) motion to reconsider the Court’s finding of summary judgment of non-infringement.  The Court’s earlier finding was based upon the undisputed facts that defendant Hotels.com’s databases did not store advertising information or video.  However, based upon the Akamai decision, which the Federal Circuit decided after the Court’s earlier order, a question of fact remained as to whether a third party stored the information such that Hotel.com could have indirectly infringed.

Written Description is Not Satisfied Because an Examiner Allowed a Claim

Posted in Summary Judgment

Carrier Vibrating Equip., Inc. v. General Kinematics Corp., No. 10 C 5110, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2012) (Dow, J.).

Judge Dow granted defendant General Kinematics summary judgment of invalidity of claims 31 and 32 of plaintiff Carrier Vibrating Equipment’s (“Carrier”) patent related to controlling retention time of a casting on a vibratory conveyor for failure to comply with the written description requirement.  The claims at issue, which were not part of the original application, related to changing the magnitude of the vibratory force.  The written description requirement - that the application describes the claimed invention such that one of ordinary skill in the art that the inventor possessed the claimed invention.  Whether the patent meets the written description requirement is a question of fact.  The Court held that the patent taught modification of the angle of the vibratory force, but not the magnitude.  The fact that the Background of the Invention section mentioned that prior art systems vary conveying speed and direction by “changing either the direction or magnitude of a force” was not sufficient because the specification did not otherwise discuss changing the magnitude.  And it was not sufficient that the specification incorporated by reference a patent that taught changing the magnitude of the force.  Furthermore, the fact that the Patent Office allowed the claims at issue was not evidence that the written description requirement was meant.  The Court held that:

there is no reason for the Court to conclude that the PTO examiner’s decision deserves any more deference than the typical presumption of validity that must be overcome by clear and convincing evidence.

Claim Construction Knocks Out Prior Art

Posted in Claim Construction, Summary Judgment

Carrier Vibrating Equip., Inc. v. General Kinematics Corp., No. 10 C 5110, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sept. 27, 2012) (Dow, J.).

Judge Dow granted plaintiff Carrier Vibrating Equipment’s (“Carrier”) motion for summary judgment of validity and denied defendant General Kinematics’s cross motion for summary judgment of invalidity in this patent case related to controlling retention time of a casting on a vibratory conveyor.  The Court initially construed the claim “modifying” to require automatic modification of the angle of vibratory force.  That construction was critical because the parties agreed that the alleged prior art system did not allow for automatic modification of the angle of vibratory force.  The Court, therefore, granted Carrier summary judgment of validity with respect to the asserted piece of prior art.

Local Patent Rules: Party Limited to Arguments Made in Final Contentions

Posted in Summary Judgment

Fujitsu Ltd. v. Tellabs, Inc., No. 09 C 4530, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sept. 26, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.).

Chief Judge Holderman granted defendant Tellabs’ motion for summary judgment of invalidity in this patent case.  As an initial matter, the Court held that Tellabs was limited to the arguments set forth in its Local Patent Rule 3.1 final invalidity contentions.  The Court, therefore, disregarded Tellabs’ anticipation arguments, which were not in the final contentions, and focused upon the obviousness arguments, which were in the final contentions.

The Court held that the asserted prior art was a printed publication because of undisputed testimony that the article was presented at a standards setting meeting and that at the meeting 25 copies of the article were distributed without restriction.  The Court acknowledged that Tellabs had not provided any evidence of an individual that actually received one of the reports.  But it was enough that Tellabs had provided “substantial” circumstantial evidence corroborating its testimony.  For example, subsequent articles written by third parties referenced the prior art paper. 

Finally, the Court considered the obviousness arguments.  Fujitsu failed o challenge Tellabs four page obviousness arguments, except to argue that the prior art reference was not enabling.  However, the Court held that a prior art need not be enabling, it simply must teach the elements of the claims in suit. 

Unenforceable Contract Provision Requires Dismissal of Contract-Based Claims

Posted in Summary Judgment

Peerless Indus., Inc. v. Crimson AV, LLC, No. 11 C 1768, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 27, 2012) (Lefkow, J.).

Judge Lefkow granted defendants’ (collectively “Crimson”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings as to plaintiff Peerless’s tortious interference and civil conspiracy claims in this patent infringement and related state law claims involving television mounts.  The Court held that a clause in the parties’ agreement that restricted defendant Sycamore from selling “Similar Products” was “unworkably difficult” and “unfairly burdensome” because it prevented the sale of any Sycamore product that was similar to any Peerless product.  Additionally, the clause gave Peerless sole discretion to determine whether a Sycamore product was similar in Peerless’s reasonable judgment.  Because the relevant clause of the agreement was unenforceable, Peerless’s tortious interference claim based upon the clause could not stand. 

Similarly, Peerless’s civil conspiracy claim could not survive because it was based upon the clause.  The Court denied defendants’ request for their fees noting that defendants offered no justification for an award of fees based upon a “routine” pre-trial motion.

Court Grants Summary Judgment Based Upon No Likelihood of Confusion

Posted in Local Rules, Summary Judgment

Hearthware, Inc. v. E. Mishan & Sons, Inc., No. 11 C 5233, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 10, 2012) (Nolan, J.).

Judge Nolan granted defendant E. Mishan & Sons (“EMS”) motion for summary judgment on plaintiff Hearthware’s copyright, Lanham Act and related state law claims related to EMS’s alleged copying of Hearthware’s Nu Wave halogen oven and its related trademarks and infomercial.  As an initial matter, the parties both failed to comply with the Local Rule 56.1 requirements for statements of fact and responses thereto, largely by failing to sufficiently support statements with citation to evidence. 


While there were many similarities between the parties’ infomercials – two hosts hugging when they met, a chef knocking frozen food against a counter, and time-lapse photography of food cooking in the oven – for each allegedly copied element EMS offered proof of many infomercials before Hearthware’s that had the same elements.  So, to the extent there was copying or at least similarity, those commonalities were unprotectable scenes a faire.  And “threadbare” allegations of direct copying could not save the claim.


There was no likelihood of confusion between Hearthware’s NUWAVE and EMS’s SUPER WAVE marks.  While both marks contain the term “wave” the marks are presented “entirely” differently.  For example, EMS focuses upon its connection to Sharper Image.  The similarities of the products – both halogen ovens – favored confusion, as did the fact that both parties sell their products nationally in similar locations.  Neither party addressed the degree of care exercised by consumers.  Hearthware’s mark was not strong in light of the sixteen other non-halogen ovens that have registered a mark with “wave” in it.  There was no evidence of actual confusion.  There was also no evidence that EMS was attempting to palm off its product as Hearthware’s.  Balancing the factors, the Court held that any finding of likelihood of confusion would be improperly based upon conjecture.  There was, therefore, no likelihood of confusion.

Without likelihood of confusion, summary judgment was warranted on all of Hearthware’s Lanham Act and related state law claims.

Reduction to Practice is a Question of Disputed Fact

Posted in Summary Judgment

Tellabs Ops., Inc. v. Fujitsu Ltd., No. 08 C 3379, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 27, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.). 

Chief Judge Holderman denied plaintiff Tellabs’ motion for summary judgment of invalidity.  As an initial matter, there was a question of fact regarding whether defendant Fujitsu could swear behind Tellabs’ prior art references based upon an alleged reduction to practice.  The Court could not determine based upon undisputed facts or as a matter of law whether or when Fujitsu reduced its invention to practice.

References to Product Use May be Enough to Show Direct Infringement

Posted in Summary Judgment

Nanochem Solutions, Inc. v. Global Green Prods., LLC, No. 10 C 3212, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 16, 2012) (Hart, Sen. J.). 

Judge Hart denied defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment of noninfringement.  Defendants argued that plaintiff Nanochem failed to offer admissible proof of any direct infringes necessary to support Nanochem’s indirect infringement claims based upon defendant’s alleged sales of a solution used in the claimed methods.  The Court held that there was a valid dispute over whether defendant’s business plans referring to using the solution were sufficient, but they did preclude entry of summary judgment.

No Inequitable Conduct Where Multiple Inferences Can be Drawn as to Intent

Posted in Summary Judgment

Fujitsu Ltd. v. Tellabs Ops., Inc., No. 09 C 4530, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 31, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.).

Judge Holderman granted plaintiff Fujitsu’s motion for summary judgment of no inequitable conduct.  The inventors allegedly failed to disclose two prior art references which had been disclosed in prior patent prosecutions, each of which was disclosed during prosecution of the patents in suit.  There was a question of fact as to whether each reference was duplicative of other disclosed art and, therefore, was material.  But defendant Tellabs did not show the required specific intent - the specific intent “must be the single most reasonable inference able to be drawn from the evidence.”  Therasence, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., 649 F.3d 1276, 1290 (Fed. Cir. 2011).  In each case, it was reasonable to infer intent to deceive from the undisputed facts.  But it was also reasonable to infer that the inventors believed the references were cumulative or that the inventors forgot to include the references.  Because multiple inferences could be drawn, there was no intent as a matter of law.

Copyright Management Information Must be on Same Web Page

Posted in Summary Judgment

Personal Keepsakes, Inc. v. PersonalizationMall, No. 11 C 5177, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2012) (Kendall, J.).

Judge Kendall denied plaintiff Personal Keepsakes’ (“PKI”) motion to reconsider in this copyright and Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) case.  The Court previously held that, as a matter of law, a copyright notice on a separate page of a website from the allegedly copied work does not constitute the copyright management information (“CMI”) required by the DMCA.  The Court’s holding was a “natural extension” of the reasoning in Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. v. Chronicle Books, LLC, 2004 WL 2583817 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 12, 2004).  And PKI cited no binding authority contradicting Schiffer or the Court’s analysis.

Disputed Reduction to Practice Dates Prevents Invalidity Summary Judgment

Posted in Summary Judgment

Tellabs Ops., Inv. v. Fujitsu Ltd., No. 08 C 3379, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. July 27, 2012) (Holderman, C. J.). 

Judge Holderman denied plaintiffs’ (collectively “Tellabs”) motion for summary judgment of invalidity in this patent case.  Tellabs’ two pieces of prior art were both dated before the patents’ earliest priority date.  But defendant Fujitsu offered inventor testimony corroborated by a technical paper that the invention was reduced to practice before the prior art dates.  As a result, there was a question of fact as to whether Tellabs’ references were, in fact, prior art. 

Additionally, the Court denied Tellabs’ motion as to obviousness.  While Tellabs’ references proved that one of ordinary skill would have known that optical transmission systems had a variable number of channels.  But the prior art did not teach the patents’ particular solutions.

Piling Inference Upon Inference Warrants Summary Judgment

Posted in Summary Judgment

Pactiv Corp. v. Multisorb Techs, Inc., No. 10 C 461, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. March 27, 2012) (Leinenweber, Sen. J.).

Judge Leinenweber granted defendant Multisorb partial summary judgment that it did not breach the parties’ contract by using confidential information received from plaintiff Pactiv to create a competing “oxygen scavenger” product - a product that is placed in a package of raw meat to remove oxygen and preserve freshness.  Initially, the Court limited the confidential information to that information marked “confidential” pursuant to the agreement and that were not otherwise publicly known.  That left three documents related to how oxygen scavenger packet weight and different packet types impact absorption.  Pactiv lacked direct evidence that Multisorb used the confidential information to develop its Fresh Pax CR or Maplox Program.

In order to find for Pactiv, a jury would have had to infer both that Multisorb’s packages and weights were instrumental to its products and that Multisorb used the confidential information in developing the products.  Summary judgment was proper because finding for Pactiv would have required “pil[ing] inference upon inference” with “less than a scintilla of evidence.”

Exceptional Case Finding Requires Additional Facts

Posted in Discovery, Local Rules, Summary Judgment, Trial

Bone Care Int’l., LLC v. Pentech Pharms., Inc., No. 08 C 1083, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 22, 2012) (Dow, J.).

Judge Dow held that plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 6,903,083 (the “’083 patent”) was invalid based upon a sale more than one year before the ‘083 patent’s filing date and denied defendants’ motion to find the case exceptional and award attorney’s fees, in this case related to vitamin D2.  As an initial matter, Judge Dow, although he would have been within his rights to do so, did not deem admitted facts that were not properly contested pursuant to Local Rule 56.1.  The Court did, however, explain that it would not consider improper denials.

The Court held that two sales by plaintiff more than one year before the filing date invalidated the ‘083 patent.  Plaintiffs argued that they were not in fact sales because while money changed hands, pursuant to a Supply Agreement, plaintiffs retained ownership of the goods.  But that argument “fail[ed] to get out of the gate.”  The Supply Agreement was for the manufacture of vitamin D2, for which hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid.

“[I]nference upon inference” favored finding the case exceptional and awarding defendants their attorney’s fees.  Plaintiffs lacked a plausible explanation for how they were unaware of the invalidating sales.  And instead of disclaiming the ‘083 patent and avoiding a large document production, plaintiffs continued asserting it.  But there remained a question of fact regarding what information plaintiffs’ executives had regarding the sales and when they had it.  The Court, therefore, allowed the parties to take further discovery on those issues before bringing the issue back to the Court. 

Apple v. Motorola: Summary Judgment Summarily Denied

Posted in Summary Judgment, Trial

Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., No. 11C 8540, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 5, 2012) (Posner, J. sitting by designation).

Judge Posner summarily denied ten motions – seven by defendants (collectively “Motorola”) and three by plaintiffs (collectively “Apple”) – regarding the parties noninfringement and invalidity arguments.  The Court explained that it omitted its reasoning because “time is short” with less than a week to go before trial.  But the Court invited renewed Fed. R. Civ. P. 50 motions if a party’s legal basis is refuted at trial.

Apple v. Motorola: Doctrine of Equivalents Would Vitiate Claim Limitation

Posted in Summary Judgment

Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., No. 11C 8540, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 5, 2012) (Posner, J. sitting by designation).

In light of the interest in this case because of both the high profile parties and the fact that Seventh Circuit Judge Posner is presiding over the case, I am going to go out of order and profile a significant number of opinions from this case during June and July.

Judge Posner granted plaintiff’s (collectively “Apple”) motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of claim 5 of U.S. Patent No. 6,175,559 (the “559 patent”) teaching the creation of a preamble sequence in CDMA code for cellphones.  The Court previously required that step 3 of the claim – multiplying inner and outer codes to form a preamble sequence – must come after the first two steps – forming outer and inner codes, respectively.  Apple argued that its outer and inner codes were not fully formed before generation of the preamble sequence.  Instead Apple created a digit of inner and outer code at a time and used each digit to create a single digit of the preamble sequence.  Motorola acknowledged that there was no literal infringement, but argued doctrine of equivalents.  But the Court held that the specific exclusion principle prevented using the doctrine of equivalents because in this instance it would vitiate the claim litigation.

Apple v. Motorola: Posner Cancels Trial Citing Lack of Damages Evidence

Posted in Summary Judgment, Trial

Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., No. 11C 8540, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 7 & 13, 2012) (Posner, J. sitting by designation).

In light of the interest because of both the high profile parties and the fact that Seventh Circuit Judge Posner is presiding over the case, I am going to go out of order and profile a significant number of opinions from this case during June.

Judge Posner canceled the trial that had been scheduled to begin June 11 holding, tentatively, that neither party had provided sufficient evidence to withstand summary judgment of no damages.  The Court also promised a more detailed analysis in a later opinion, which has not issued as of the date of this blog post.

The Court further held that the parties had no rights to injunctive relief.  The parties had already made clear they believed money damages were an adequate remedy and injunctive relief “would impose costs disproportionate to the harm to the patentee and the benefit of the alleged infringement to the alleged infringer and would be contrary to the public interest . . . . “

Six days later, however, the Court granted plaintiffs’ (collectively “Apple”) request for an injunctive relief hearing to allow the parties to attempt to satisfy the eBay factors.  The parties were given until June 18 to submit briefs and were to be prepared to address “the possibility of substitution for an injunction of an equitable decree for a reasonable royalty going forward.”