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.

Scaltech v. Retec/Tetra

September 10, 1998

SCALTECH INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
RETEC/TETRA, L.L.C., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Rich, Plager and Gajarsa, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rich, Circuit Judge

Appealed from: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Scaltech, Inc. (Scaltech) appeals from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, H-95-4190, granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of Retec/Tetra, L.L.C. (Retec), holding U.S. Patent No. 5,433,717 invalid because an embodiment of the claimed invention was "on sale" within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 102(b). We vacate and remand.

BACKGROUND

Scaltech is in the business of recycling industrial waste produced during the refining of petroleum products. Retec is in the business of producing delayed coker quench streams for use in producing delayed petroleum coke. Their paths crossed when they both used waste products from the petroleum refinery process to produce coke, albeit apparently for different purposes--Retec for producing coke and Scaltech for disposing of waste. Scaltech is the assignee of record of U.S. Patent No. 5,433,717 (the '717 patent) issued 22 August 1995 on the application of Robert M. Scalliet, filed on 19 January 1993 and entitled "Recycle of Waste Streams." The '717 patent is generally directed to a process for the disposal of oil refinery waste in conjunction with a "delayed coking" process by which oil refiners produce coke. Coke is a porous solid that is produced as a by-product in the oil refining process. It is frequently burned as a fuel. Production of coke by the "delayed coking" method involves heating the crude oil residue and introducing it into a vessel called a coker drum under specified conditions that result in transformation of the crude oil residue into coke. The coke is then cooled, or "quenched," by the controlled introduction of an aqueous slurry of solids, or "quench stream," into the coker drum. According to the '717 patent, quantities of refinery waste may be successfully disposed of in the quench stream of the delayed coker unit if the waste introduced to the quench stream is comprised of greater than seventy percent of the solids having a particle size less than 15 microns. The '717 patent teaches that this may be accomplished by the treatment of the waste before it is introduced into the quench stream to remove most of the free oil or mobile organic material and reduce the solid particle size. This leaves the de-oiled waste solids suspended in water, or an aqueous slurry of the waste solids, which is then introduced into the delayed coker quench stream.

Claims 1 and 6 are the only independent claims in the '717 patent.

Claim 1 reads:

In a process for producing delayed petroleum coke, wherein a liquid hydrocarbon feed stream is introduced into a delayed coking vessel under delayed coking conditions and the coke produced is quenched, the improvement comprising: treating a waste stream containing water, organic compounds and solids so as to cause attrition of said solids to produce a delayed coker quench stream containing from about 5 to about 35% by weight solids, water and less than about 6% by weight mobile organics, said solids in said coker quench stream having a particle size distribution such that greater than about 70% of the total solids volume comprises solids having a particle size of less than about 15 microns; and introducing said coker quench stream into said coking vessel during quenching.

Claim 6, the broadest claim, reads:

A process for producing delayed coker quench stream for use in producing delayed petroleum coke wherein a liquid hydrocarbon feed stream is introduced into a delayed coking vessel under delayed coking conditions and the coke produced is quenched, comprising:

treating a waste stream containing water, organic compounds and solids so as to cause attrition of said solids to produce a delayed coker quench stream containing from about 5 to about 35% by weight solids, water and less than about 6% by weight mobile organics, said solids in said coker quench stream having a particle size distribution such that greater than about 70% of the total solids volume comprises solids having a particle size of less than about 15 microns.

Scaltech brought suit against Retec for infringement of the '717 patent. After completing a modicum of discovery, Retec raised the affirmative defense of patent invalidity under 35 U.S.C. §102(b), alleging that Scaltech sold or offered for sale a process embodying the claimed invention of the '717 patent more than one year before its filing date. On 24 February 1997, Retec filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a holding of patent invalidity. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Retec, holding the patent invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b) as a result of an "on sale" bar. This appeal followed.

Discussi ...


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.