Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

SFP Works, LLC v. Buffalo Armory LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

October 31, 2016

SFP WORKS, LLC, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
BUFFALO ARMORY LLC, Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.

          PRESENT Honorable Gerald E. Rosen United States District Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Gerald E. Rosen United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In this patent infringement suit, Plaintiff SFP Works, LLC alleges that Defendant Buffalo Armory LLC has infringed a patent held by Plaintiff, U.S. Patent No. 8, 480, 824 (the “‘824 Patent”), by continuing to use Plaintiff's patented steel treatment technology after the expiration of a license granting Defendant the right to use this process. Defendant, in turn, has filed counterclaims against Plaintiff, seeking declarations that it has not infringed the ‘824 Patent and that this patent is invalid on a number of grounds. This Court's subject matter jurisdiction over this case rests upon the parties' assertion of claims arising under federal patent law. See 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a).

         Through the present motion, Defendant seeks an award of summary judgment in its favor as to Plaintiff's claim of patent infringement and Defendant's counterclaim of patent invalidity. In support of its challenge to Plaintiff's claim of patent infringement, Defendant contends that its accused steel treatment process does not meet two of the limitations of the asserted claims of the ‘824 Patent, whether literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. As for its claim of invalidity, Defendant argues that the asserted claims of the ‘824 Patent are invalid for indefiniteness, are anticipated by the relevant prior art, and are obvious in light of this prior art.

         Defendant's summary judgment motion has been fully briefed by the parties. Having carefully and thoroughly reviewed the parties' briefs in support of and in opposition to Defendant's motion, as well as the exhibits accompanying these briefs, the Court finds that the relevant facts, legal issues, and authorities are sufficiently presented in these written submissions, and that oral argument would not aid the decisional process. Accordingly, the Court will decide Defendant's motion “on the briefs.” See Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan. This opinion and order sets forth the Court's rulings on this motion.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. The Standards Governing Defendant's Motion

         Through its present motion, Defendant seeks an award of summary judgment in its favor on Plaintiff's claim of patent infringement and Defendant's counterclaim of patent invalidity. Under the Federal Rule governing this motion, summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).

         As the Supreme Court has explained, “the plain language of Rule 56[] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). In contrast, to the extent that Defendant seeks an award of summary judgment in its favor on matters as to which it bears the burden of proof - i.e., Defendant's various challenges to the validity of the ‘824 patent - Defendant's “showing must be sufficient for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party.” Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks, citation, and emphasis omitted). Regardless of the allocation of the burden of proof, the central issue under Rule 56 is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2512 (1986).

         In deciding a motion brought under Rule 56, the Court must view the evidence “in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, giving that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences.” Smith Wholesale Co. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 477 F.3d 854, 861 (6th Cir. 2007). Yet, the nonmoving party may not rely on bare allegations or denials, but instead must support a claim of disputed facts by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . ., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). Moreover, any supporting or opposing affidavits “must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Finally, “[a] mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient” to withstand a summary judgment motion; rather, “there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the non-moving party.” Smith Wholesale, 477 F.3d at 861 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         B. The Accused Steel Treatment Process Used by Defendant Does Not Meet Each of the Limitations of the Asserted Claims of the ‘824 Patent, As Necessary To Sustain Plaintiff's Patent Infringement Claim.

         1. The Standards Governing Plaintiff's Claim of Infringement

         Turning first to Plaintiff's claim of patent infringement, this Court's inquiry is governed by a two-step analytical framework. See Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. v. United States Surgical Corp., 149 F.3d 1309, 1315 (Fed. Cir. 1998); Lear Automotive Dearborn, Inc. v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 528 F.Supp.2d 654, 659 (E.D. Mich. 2007). First, the pertinent claims of the ‘824 Patent must be construed to determine their meaning and scope. See Ethicon Endo-Surgery, 149 F.3d at 1315. Next, the claims as construed must be compared to the accused process practiced by Defendant. See Ethicon Endo-Surgery, 149 F.3d at 1315. As the party alleging infringement, Plaintiff must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant's accused process meets every limitation of one or more claims of the ‘824 Patent, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Cross Medical Products, Inc. v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., 424 F.3d 1293, 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2005). The failure of the accused process to meet even “a single limitation is sufficient to negate infringement of the claim.” Laitram Corp. v. Rexnord, Inc., 939 F.2d 1533, 1535 (Fed. Cir. 1991).

         The first step in the infringement analysis, claim construction, is a question of law to be determined by the Court. See Ethicon Endo-Surgery, 149 F.3d at 1315; Lear Automotive, 528 F.Supp.2d at 660. The second step, however - i.e., “determining whether [Defendant's accused process] infringes a properly construed claim” of the ‘824 Patent - is a question of fact. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, 149 F.3d at 1315. Nonetheless, an infringement inquiry is amenable to resolution through a motion for summary judgment if no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. See Ethicon Endo-Surgery, 149 F.3d at 1315.

         2. The Record Establishes as a Matter of Law that Defendant's Accused Process Does Not Infringe the Asserted Claims of the ‘824 Patent.

         Of the asserted claims of the ‘824 Patent, claims 1 and 17 are the only independent claims. Each of these two claims requires that steel be “rapidly heat[ed], within 5 seconds, ” to a temperature of at least 1832 degrees Fahrenheit. (Defendant's Motion, Ex. A-1, ‘824 Patent at 10:51-54, 11:47-50.) As its first challenge to Plaintiff's claim of patent infringement, Defendant contends that its accused process does not heat steel within 5 seconds, regardless of whether one considers a preheating step in this process or just the time that the steel is heated by a main induction coil. Defendant further asserts that Plaintiff is estopped from invoking the doctrine of equivalents as a means of showing that Defendant's process meets this limitation of claims 1 and 17. It follows, in Defendant's view, that its process does not infringe either of these independent claims, or any of the other asserted claims of the ‘824 Patent that depend from these two claims. The Court agrees.

         (a) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.