PSN Illinois, LLC v. Ivoclar Vivadent, Inc., No. 04 C 7232, 2006 WL 3523760 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 7, 2006) (Kendall, J.).
Judge Kendall granted defendant summary judgment of noninfringement, both literal and doctrine of equivalents. Plaintiff alleged that Ivoclar’s Empress veneer technique for making porcelain tooth veneers infringed plaintiff’s patent. The patent claimed a method for making porcelain veneers consisting of: 1) taking an impression of a tooth; 2) forming a "statue" of the tooth from the impression; 3) applying a "porcelain powder" to the statue to build a veneer restoration; 4) firing the veneer restoration on the statue; and 5) eroding the statue from the veneer restoration leaving a restoration "ready for mounting." The Court construed each of the three terms in quotations and then held that no reasonable jury could find that defendant’s Empress method produced a "ready for mounting" veneer.
The Court construed a "ready for mounting" to require that a veneer be "ready to be fitted on and cemented to a patient’s tooth." Because the Empress method required substantial finishing after the veneer is removed from the statue and prior to being cemented to a tooth, the Empress method was held not to infringe the claim.
The Court also construed "statue" to be a "positive, substantially entire version of the tooth" and noted that "model" was a synonym of "statue." Because the Empress method involved applying a substance including porcelain to a negative mold of a tooth, instead of a positive model or statue, the claim was not literally infringed. But the Court found a question of fact as to whether the Empress method’s combination of an original positive model of the tooth combined with the negative model used to form the veneer could infringe the claim pursuant to the doctrine of equivalents.