Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 9845, Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 18, 2009) (Guzman, J.)

Judge Guzman granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment of obviousness in this patent dispute regarding a retractable tether alarm system. The Court held that the asserted prior art ‘805 patent was analogous prior art based upon the Graham test. The inventor of the patent-in-suit was attempting to solve the problem of telephone wires “laying all over” in stores. And the ‘805 patent, to a retractable reel assembly for telephone wires would have been relevant to the inventory analysis. The Court also noted that prior art need not be in the same field to be analogous. The Court held that the ‘805 patent combined with the ‘098 patent’s alarm triggering and sensing system taught every element of the patent-in-suit for two reasons:

  1. Plaintiff’s denial of defendant’s statement of material fact that the prior art ‘805 and ‘098 patents taught all elements was denied without citing any factual proof. Such a denial is equivalent to an admission.
  2. A review of the ‘805 and ‘098 patents showed each element of the patent-in-suit, only a combination of the ‘098 patent’s alarm system with ‘805 patent’s the retractable reel was required.

The Court then held that combining the ‘805 patent’s retractable telephone cord reel with the ‘098 patent’s alarm triggering and sensing system rendered the patent-in-suit obvious. Plaintiff’s expert declaration stating that neither the prior art nor the security field generally evidenced any motivation to combine the prior art patents, did not persuade the Court. The expert’s statements were conclusory and KSR expressly stated that prior art need not be in the same field as the patent-in-suit.

Finally, plaintiff’s secondary consideration evidence regarding commercial success was not sufficient. Plaintiff offered no proof that its commercial success flowed from the merits of its invention.