Eazypower Corp. v. Jore Corp., No. 04 C 6372, 2008 WL 3849921 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 14, 2008) (Zagel, J.)
Judge Zagel construed the claims of plaintiff Eazypower’s patent to a portable screwdriver with a flexible shaft. Of particular interest, the Court held that despite Eazypower’s Jepson claim format, its preamble was not limiting.
Jepson claiming is a drafting style – common in Europe, but relatively rare in the United States – in which the prior art is described in the preamble and the claimed improvements over the prior art are described in the body of the claim. The Court acknowledged that Jepson claims carry a rebuttable presumption that the claim’s preamble is limiting. But the Court held that the Eazypower rebutted the presumption in this case. The claim’s preamble, therefore, was not limiting. First, the Court relied upon two 2003 Northern District opinions, by Judges Guzman and St. Eve, holding that the preambles of the claims at issue overcame the presumption and were not limiting. While these opinions were not controlling, the Court found them well-reasoned and persuasive. The Court explained that the preambles were not limiting because they were “not necessary to give life to the claims,” citing Judge Guzman’s decision. Eazypower v. Vermont Am. Corp., No. 01 C 3252, 2003 WL 1720024, at *10 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2003).