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REMCOR PRODS. CO. v. SCOTSMAN GROUP

September 1, 1994

REMCOR PRODUCTS COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTSMAN GROUP, INC. and BOOTH, INC., Defendants.


ALESIA


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES H. ALESIA

Plaintiff Remcor Products Co. charges that defendants Scotsman Group, Inc. and Booth, Inc. have infringed U.S. Patent No. 4,300,359 and U.S. Reissue Patent No. 34,565, both entitled "Cold Plate System for Ice Dispenser". In defense, defendants assert that plaintiff is judicially estopped from claiming infringement and that plaintiff's patents are unenforceable due to inequitable conduct. Before the court are plaintiff's Motion For Partial Summary Judgment and defendants' Cross-Motion For Summary Judgment seeking summary determination of both defenses.

 I. FACTS1

 A. Judicial Estoppel Defense

 During the July 17 conversation and in the July 22 letter, Remcor told the FTC:

 
(a) the technology for ice-beverage dispensers was readily available to the industry;
 
(b) ice-beverage dispensers are commodity products which compete in a market in which there are many competitors; and
 
(c) all of Remcor's competitors had designed around the Remcor Patent.

 Ex. D, Koeneman's Notes for FTC on Wednesday; Ex. E, Koeneman Dep. at 243-44, 248, 260, 408; Ex. F.

 No further communications occurred. The FTC did not extend the waiting period. Ex. C, Kaufmann Dep. 28-29. The FTC did not initiate any proceedings to challenge the proposed acquisition. Ex. C, Kaufmann Dep. 28-29. There were no hearings. The FTC did not issue a decision or judgment, nor did it seek an injunction against the acquisition. The waiting period expired as scheduled on July 25, 1991. Ex. C, Kaufmann Dep. 29. IMI's acquisition of Remcor was subsequently consummated.

 B. Inequitable Conduct Defense

 In the body of the specification of the Remcor patent, several prior art references were cited and disclosed as follows:

 
There is illustrated in the accompanying drawing an embodiment of a cold plate system for an ice dispenser which is presently contemplated as the best mode of carrying out the invention. As shown, an ice dispenser, indicated generally at 10, is conventionally comprised of a hopper, bin or tank 12 for storing a large mass of crushed, cracked, flaked or cubed ice, such as 50 pounds, a rotary impeller or agitator 14 driven by an electric motor 16, and means 18 for accommodating controlled discharge of ice from the lower end portion of the hopper through a discharge opening 20. The means 18, although not forming a part of the present invention, is highly desirable to enable convenient dispensing of ice in the hopper, ...

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