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One World Technologies, Ltd. v. Rexon Industrial Corp.

May 9, 2006

ONE WORLD TECHNOLOGIES, LTD. AND RYOBI TECHNOLOGIES, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
REXON INDUSTRIAL CORP., LTD., POWER TOOL SPECIALISTS, INC., AND REXON USA CORP., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

One World Technologies, Ltd. and Ryobi Technologies, Inc. (collectively, "Ryobi") have sued Rexon Industrial Corp., Ltd., Rexon USA Corp., and Power Tool Specialists, Inc. (collectively, "Rexon") for patent infringement. In June 2005, the Court issued a ruling construing disputed terms in the patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,755,107 and 6,360,797. One World Techs. v. Rexon Indus. Corp., No. 04 C 4337, 2005 WL 1377897 (N.D. Ill. June 3, 2005). Ryobi and Rexon have now filed various motions for summary judgment. With regard to the '107 patent, Rexon seeks summary judgment on the issue of infringement, and Ryobi seeks summary judgment on Rexon's defense of inequitable conduct. With regard to the '797 patent, Rexon seeks summary judgment on its claim the patent is invalid. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies both sides' motions regarding the '107 patent and grants in part and denies in part Rexon's motion regarding the '797 patent.

Facts

Ryobi asserts two patents in this case. The '107 patent discloses a miter saw having a light beam alignment system. A miter saw is used to cut workpieces at precise angles. The light beam alignment system assists the operator of the saw in aligning the saw blade to the area of the workpiece to be cut. Ryobi states that its invention improves on the prior art by creating a miter saw with a built-in light beam alignment system and guards that protect the operator from debris and from the light beam. The '797 patent discloses a portable support assembly that allows woodworking implements to be transferred to and used at various worksites without cumbersome disassembly or modification. Ryobi contends that Rexon has infringed both patents.*fn1

Discussion

Summary judgment is appropriate if "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). The Court draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Continental Cas. Co. v. Northwestern Nat'l Ins. Co., 427 F.3d 1038, 1041 (7th Cir. 2005).

1. '107 patent

A. Non-infringement

Ryobi contends that Rexon infringed claim 11 of the '107 patent, which recites a miter saw with a light alignment system. Rexon argues that its accused products lack several of the limitations in claim 11. Rexon focuses its motion for summary judgment, however, on the seventh limitation: a movable guard that pivots to cover at least a portion of the blade that is not engaging the workpiece, the guard having an opaque portion that blocks the beam of light to prevent the beam of light from being directed toward an operator of the saw and a transparent portion that allows the narrow beam of light to pass through to create a line of light on the workpiece when the moveable guard is disposed between the laser and the workpiece.

U.S. Patent 6,755,107, col. 7, lines 41-49 (emphasis added). Rexon maintains that because the movable guards on its accused products lack an opaque portion or the functional equivalent of an opaque portion, no fact finder reasonably could find that its products infringe the '107 patent. Ryobi contends that there is a genuine issue of material fact that precludes summary judgment. The Court agrees with Ryobi.

Determining whether an accused product infringes a patent claim involves two steps. The court must first construe the claims to ascertain their scope and then compare the claims as construed to the accused products. See Wilson Sporting Goods Co. v. Hillerich & Bradsby Co., 442 F.3d 1322, 1326 (Fed. Cir. 2006). The Court completed the first step in its June 2005 claim construction ruling. During the second step of the infringement analysis, the patentee bears the burden of proving that the accused products contain each limitation of the asserted claim or a substantial equivalent of each limitation. See S. Bravo Sys. Inc. v. Containment Techs. Corp., 96 F.3d 1372, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 1996). If Rexon's accused products lack a single claim limitation, Ryobi's claim for infringement fails. See Rohm and Haas Co. v. Brotech Corp., 127 F.3d 1089, 1092 (Fed. Cir. 1997). Summary judgment of non-infringement can be granted only "if, after viewing the alleged facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant, there is no genuine issue whether the accused device is encompassed by the claims." Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1304 (Fed. Cir. 1999).

The Court begins by reviewing our earlier construction of the term "opaque," which we defined as "a substance that is impervious to light and therefore blocks the passage of light." One World, 2005 WL 1377897 at *11. In construing this term, we rejected both Ryobi's and Rexon's efforts to further limit the term's definition. Id. (rejecting Ryobi's proposal to incorporate into the definition of "opaque" the reason for having an opaque portion and Rexon's proposal to add a statement that substances that are opaque are "neither translucent or transparent"). Given this decision, the determinative issue on the present motion is whether there is a genuine issue of fact regarding the opacity of the movable guards on Rexon's accused products. Both parties focus their discussion on the portion of the lower movable guards on Rexon's accused products to which a warning label is affixed.

Rexon argues that the lower movable guards are not opaque because they do not block the passage of light. In support of its argument, Rexon relies on the opinions of Dr. Norman Axelrod, a consultant on optics, lasers, and vision technologies. Rexon Infringement LR 56.1 Reply, Ex. 31 (Axelrod Report). Dr. Axelrod used a series of observation tests to determine whether light from several different types of sources, including a white light bulb, a hand-held laser pointer, and the laser beam alignment system attached to the accused products, could pass through the lower movable guard alone, through the warning label alone, and through the lower movable guard with the warning label attached. During these tests, Dr. Axelrod stated that when he shined the light source through the inner side of the guard alone, the warning label alone, and the guard with the warning label attached, he observed light penetrating through to the other side. He therefore concluded that no portion of the accused products' lower movable guards was opaque. Id. at 4-22. Ryobi challenges the methodology used by Dr. Axelrod and his ultimate conclusions on the ground that several of his testing scenarios failed to replicate the conditions in which the accused products are actually operated.

In opposition to Dr. Axelrod's opinions, Ryobi relies on the opinions of Dr. Alexander Slocum, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. Ryobi Infringement LR 56.1 Response, Ex. O (Slocum Report). Dr. Slocum also tested the opacity of the accused products' lower movable guards using two tests, a paper test and an observation test. In administering the paper test, Dr. Slocum held a piece of white paper in front of the lower movable guard with the warning label attached. Even "when [he] brought the paper as close as [he] could to the protective label (i.e., within one inch), [he] could see no light projected onto it." Id. at 6. In administering the observation test, Dr. Slocum used the accused products and examined whether he could see the light from the laser beam alignment system on the outer side of the lower movable guard with the warning label attached. He stated that he could not. Id. Based on these tests, Dr. Slocum concluded that this portion of the accused products' movable guards was ...


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