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LYNDEX CORPORATION v. HEARTECH PRECISION

January 5, 2004.

LYNDEX CORPORATION Plaintiff,
v.
HEARTECH PRECISION, INC.; PIONEER TRADING CO., LTD.; and DOOSUNG PRECISION COMPANY, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Lyndex Corporation has sued Heartech Precision, Inc., its parent company Pioneer Trading Co., Ltd., and Doosung Precision Company, contending that Heartech's tool chuck design infringes its patent. Heartech has moved for summary judgment on the issue of infringement. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Heartech's motion.

Facts

  Lyndex is a distributor of a grooved machine tool chuck covered by United States Patent number 6,105,974. The chuck is inserted into a machine tool, such as a lathe or a milling machine, and is designed to hold tool elements with greater gripping torque (chuck force) than other chucks. The following diagram derived from the specification of the `974 patent and a highlighted version of a prior art chuck from Fig. 8 of the `974 Patent below, illustrates a cross-section of the chuck and shows how Page 2 it creates chuck force: [EDITORS' NOTE: FIGURE IS ELECTRONICALLY NOT TRANSFERABLE.]

  The chuck force is generated when a clamp sleeve 5 (highlighted in blue) is rotated clockwise around a chuck sleeve 1C (highlighted in red), moving the clamp sleeve upward along the outside of the chuck sleeve as indicated by the blue arrow. `974 patent, col. 2, lines. 4-25. Due to the inner tapered surface of the clamp sleeve 5, the clamp sleeve's upward movement against the chuck sleeve causes the clamp sleeve to strongly press the chuck sleeve inward, as indicated by the red arrows. This causes the chuck sleeve to deform radially inwardly, reducing its inner diameter and bringing it into contact with the tool 7. This generates the chuck force that holds the tool in the chuck during machining operations. The invention claimed in the `974 Patent is directed toward increasing the chuck force along the length of the chuck sleeve by increasing the chuck sleeve's deformation in the area nearest the chuck flange. See `974 patent col. 3, lines. 36-39. Page 3

  Hearteach and its parent company Pioneer designed their own tool chuck which Lyndex believed to be an exact copy of its patented design. Lyndex informed Pioneer and Heartech that it believed that Heartech's chuck design infringed on its intellectual property and followed up this notification with a letter in November of 2002. After receiving this notification, Heartech created a second chuck which modified the design of its first chuck by moving the position of the groove radially outwardly along the end surface of the flange (see diagram below). Lyndex argues that this modified

 [EDITORS' NOTE: FIGURE IS ELECTRONICALLY NOT TRANSFERABLE.]

 design also infringes the `974 patent. Heartech has filed a motion for summary judgement on the issue of infringement

  Discussion

  Summary judgment is appropriate in a patent case, as any other case, when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P.56(c); Avia Group International, Inc. v. L.A. Gear California, Inc., 853 F.2d 1557, Page 4 1561 (Fed. Cir. 1988). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of fact, we view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party opposing the motion. Stimsonite Corp. v. Nightline Markers, Inc., 33 F. Supp.2d 703, 705 (N.D. Ill. 1999).

  A patent infringement analysis entails two steps. The first is determining the meaning and scope of the patent claims alleged to be infringed. The second step is comparing the properly construed claims to the device accused of infringing. See, e.g., Bayer AGv. Elan Pharmaceutical Research Corp., 212 F.3d 1241, 1247 (Fed. Cir. 2000); Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1995). To prove literal infringement, the patent holder must show that the accused device contains every limitation in the asserted claims. Kraft Foods, Inc. v. International Trading Co., 203 F.3d 1362, 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2000). To prove infringement under the doctrine of equivalents, the patent holder must show that the accused device contains each limitation of that claim or its equivalent. Jeneric/Pentron, Inc. v. Dillon Company, Inc., 205 F.3d 1377, 1383 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (citing Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 40 (1997)). Conversely, "[f]or any given claim, `infringement is avoided when one element (or substitute falling within a permissible range of equivalents) is absent.'" Watts v. XL Systems, Inc., 232 F.3d 877, 884 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (quoting Senmed, Inc. v. Richard-Alien Medical Industries, Inc., 888 F.2d 815, 818 n.2 (Fed. Cir. 1989).

  Infringement is a question of fact. See, e.g., Moore U.S.A., Inc. v. Standard Register Co., 229 F.3d 1091, 1105 (Fed. Cir. 2000). However, if no fact finder reasonably could find that the patent's claims literally read on the accused device, summary judgment of no literal infringement is appropriate. Johnston v. IVAC Corp., 885 F.2d 1574, 1580 (Fed. Cir. 1989). Similarly, where the Page 5 evidence is such that no reasonable jury could determine two elements to be equivalent, "a district court is obliged to grant summary judgment of non-infringement" under the doctrine of equivalents. Warner-Jenkinson, 520 U.S. at 39 n.8.

  Lyndex contends that both Heartech's first and second chuck designs are at issue in this case. However, because Heartech has moved for summary judgment only on the issue of whether its second chuck design infringes on the `974 patent, the question of whether its first design also infringes is not before the Court at this time.

  The `974 patent contains eleven claims. Claims 1 through 9 require:
a groove having a predetermined depth . . . formed in the end surface of said flange opposite said shank portion such that said groove extends along the outer circumference of the base end of said chuck sleeve . . .
`974 patent, col. 13, lines 24-30. Claims 10 and 11 require:
a ring shaped groove therein immediately adjacent said chuck sleeve, the ring-shaped groove having a circumferentially arranged inner cylindrical surface which joins with the outer circumferential surface of the chuck sleeve immediately adjacent said ring-shaped groove.
`974 patent, col. 14, line 64 — col. 15, line 2. Heartech argues that the accused device does not ...

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