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Voltstar Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon. Com, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 28, 2014

VOLTSTAR TECHNOLOGIES, INC. f/k/a HORIZON TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON.COM, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Voltstar Technologies, Inc., formerly known as Horizon Technologies, Inc., ("Voltstar") sued Amazon.com, Inc. ("Amazon") for patent infringement of United States Design Patent No. D587, 192, entitled "Electrical Charger." The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion and grants Defendant's motion.

Factual Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. Voltstar is an Illinois corporation that manufactures wall plug accessory products used to charge devices made by other manufacturers, including the Mini Charger, which is sold on Amazon.com and can be used to charge Amazon products. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 1-4. Amazon is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Seattle, Washington. Id. ¶ 7. Amazon is known for its e-readers, sold under the Kindle brand, and also sells a charging accessory that can be used with its e-readers. Id. ¶¶ 8-9.

Voltstar filed for a design patent for the Mini Charger on November 27, 2007, which was issued on February 24, 2009. Id. ¶ 11. The patent claims a single embodiment shown in the following figures:

Id. ¶¶ 13-16.

The accused charger was designed by Amazon in spring of 2008 and released to the public in March 2009. It is subject to its own design patent, U.S. Design Patent No. D611, 409. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. The patent claims a single embodiment shown in the following figures:

Dkt. 27, Ex. B.

Both the Voltstar and the Amazon patent are presented as computer-aided design ("CAD") drawings. Pl. LR 56(b)(3) Stmt. ¶¶ 27, 33. In the design community, CAD is thought to be the most accurate way of communicating a design. Id. ¶ 39. A CAD line represents a change in the surface being drawn, but does not represent a break in that surface. Id. ¶ 31. Additionally, design patents do not have noted dimensions, allowing them to be enlarged or reduced in most manners so long as the proportional relationships do not change. Id. ¶ 36. All features depicted in the design patent drawings are ornamental in nature, except for the two blades used to power the chargers by plugging them into a power source and the USB port used to charge an electronic device located on the other side. Id. ¶ 22. The USB ports themselves are functional; however, their location is ornamental so long as the product can be used as intended. Id. ¶ 23.

Though there are thirty-six references cited between Voltstar's and Amazon's patents, the parties agree that, for purposes of summary judgment, the closest prior art is U.S. Design Patent No. D583, 316, as pictured in the figures below. Id. ¶ 44.

Dkt. 43, Ex. 17.

Discussion

I. The Legal Standards

"The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court gives "the non-moving party the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it." Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719 F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013). In order to survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and "must establish some genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in her favor." Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012). However, the Court will "limit its analysis of the facts on summary judgment to evidence that is properly identified and supported in the parties' [Local Rule 56.1] statements." Bordelon v. Chi. Sch. Reform Bd. of Trs., 233 F.3d 524, 529 (7th Cir. 2000). If a proposed statement of fact is properly supported by the ...


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