Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Atlas Powder Co. v. E.I. du Pont De Nemours & Co. case brief

Atlas Powder Co. v. E.I. du Pont De Nemours & Co. case brief summary
750 F.2d 1569 (1984)

Plaintiff appealed an order of the United States District Court for District of Massachusetts, holding that defendant was not liable for patent infringement in distributing a patented product manufactured by a different process. Defendant appealed the finding that plaintiff's patent not invalidated by 35 U.S.C.S. §102(b).

Plaintiff owned a patent containing both process and product-by-process claims for a shock absorbing shoe innersole made from an elastomeric material and polyurethane foam. Defendant distributed half-sole innersoles, or heel cups, with elastomeric heel inserts manufactured by two different manufacturers using two different processes. Plaintiff sued defendant for infringing the patented process. The district court held that the process infringed the product-by-process claim of one of the manufacturers only. The patent was not invalid under the on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C.S. § 102(b). Plaintiff was awarded lost profits. The appeal followed.

  • The court vacated and remanded the judgment on validity of the patent for proper on-sale analysis. 
  • The court affirmed the judgment for infringement. 
  • The process of one manufacturer infringed plaintiff's patent, as the process contained all the claim limitations. 
  • The second manufacturer used a different process to achieve an albeit indistinguishable product, thus, there was no infringement of product-by-process claim. 
  • The damage award was vacated. 
  • Due to an error in calculating lost profits, a market share approach should have been utilized.

The court affirmed the infringement rulings; one manufacturer's process included all claim limitations, thus, infringing the patent; the second manufacturer utilized a different process to create his product, so there was no infringement of the product-by-process claim. The court vacated the ruling on the validity of the patent, and remanded for a proper on-sale analysis. The damage award was vacated for recalculation of lost profits.

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