Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ormco Corp. v. Align Technology, Inc. case brief

Ormco Corp. v. Align Technology, Inc. case brief summary
463 F.3d 1299 (2006)

Appellants, found to have infringed upon appellee patent holder's patents, appealed from the entry of summary judgment of infringement by the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The patents disclosed a successive system of orthodontic devices for moving teeth to a final configuration. The alleged infringers argued the claims would have been obvious or were anticipated under 35 U.S.C.S. §§ 102(a) and 103(a).

Although the district court had not yet entered a final judgment on the multiple claims between the parties, the alleged infringers appealed from the permanent injunction, giving the Federal Circuit jurisdiction. There were two claims in issue, an apparatus claim and a method claim.


  • The court of appeals concluded that prior art referenced by the parties was sufficiently publicly accessible to qualify as prior art, as it had been promoted to other orthodontists through seminars and clinics. 
  • The district court found the patent holder's successive numbering system for the orthodontic appliances made it patentable, but the Federal Circuit found that different thicknesses in the prior art devices served as markings to indicate their order of use, and thus rendered the patent holder's apparatus claim obvious. The thicknesses of the devices thus meeting the limitations of claim. 
  • The patent holder failed to rebut the presumption that the claimed range would have been obvious. 
  • While the patent holder's product was commercially successful, but the evidence clearly rebutted the presumption that its success was due to the claimed and novel features.


The district court's grant of summary judgment that the patents were not invalid was reversed, as all six claims would have been obvious.

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