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Loggerhead Tools, LLC v. Sears Holdings Corp.

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

September 20, 2016

LOGGERHEAD TOOLS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SEARS HOLDINGS CORPORATION and APEX TOOL GROUP, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge

         Plaintiff LoggerHead, LLC filed a Second Amended Complaint against Defendants Sears Holdings Corporation and Apex Tool Group, LLC. The Second Amended Complaint alleges, inter alia, four counts of willful patent infringement of United States Patents No. 6, 889, 579 (the “‘579 Patent”), in Counts I and II, and No. 7, 992, 470 (the “‘470 Patent”), in Counts III and IV. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of Infringement [264]. For the reasons set forth more fully below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment of Infringement [264] is denied.

         LOCAL RULE 56.1

         Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the moving party to provide “a statement of material facts as to which the party contends there is no genuine issue for trial.” Ammons v. Aramark Uniform Servs., 368 F.3d 809, 817 (7th Cir. 2004). Local Rule 56.1(b)(3) requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny every factual statement proffered by the moving party and to concisely designate any material facts that establish a genuine dispute for trial. See Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). A nonmovant's “mere disagreement with the movant's asserted facts is inadequate if made without reference to specific supporting material.” Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003). In the case of any disagreement, the nonmoving party must reference affidavits, parts of the record, and other materials that support his stance. Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(B). To the extent that a response to a statement of material fact provides only extraneous or argumentative information, this response will not constitute a proper denial of the fact, and the fact is admitted. See Graziano v. Vill. of Oak Park, 401 F.Supp.2d 918, 936 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Similarly, to the extent that a statement of fact contains a legal conclusion or otherwise unsupported statement, including a fact that relies upon inadmissible hearsay, such a fact is disregarded. Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997). Pursuant to Local Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C), the nonmovant may submit additional statements of material facts that “require the denial of summary judgment.”

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from the parties' statements of undisputed material facts submitted in accordance with Local Rule 56.1.

         Plaintiff is an Illinois limited-liability company with its principal place of business in Illinois. (PSOF ¶ 1.) Defendant Sears Holding Corporation is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Apex Tool Group, LLC is a Delaware limited-liability company with its principal place of business in Maryland. (Id. ¶ 3.) The ‘579 Patent and the ‘470 Patent are titled “Adjustable Gripping Tool” and are assigned to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 8.) During prosecution, the ‘470 Patent was distinguished from the Buchanan patent, U.S. Patent No. 2, 787, 925. (DSOF ¶ 4.)

         Sears began selling the Max Axess Locking Wrench (the “MALW”), which was developed by Apex, in late 2012. (PSOF ¶¶ 16, 17.) Plaintiff asserts claims 1, 2, 6, 9, 11, and 16-18 of the ‘579 Patent and claims 1, 9, 10, and 33-35 of the ‘470 Patent. (DSOF ¶ 1.) The first element of each asserted claim includes a gripping portion that requires a gripping element containing a body portion, an arm portion, and a force transfer element. (Id. ¶ 2.) The second element includes an actuation portion that facilitates movement of the gripping elements via a slot with a first section configured to engage the force transfer element. (Id. ¶ 3.)

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         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate when “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. Courts deciding summary judgment motions must view facts “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a ‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The moving party has the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, “[t]he nonmoving party must point to specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Stephens v. Erickson, 569 F.3d 779, 786 (7th Cir. 2009). Factual disputes do “not preclude summary judgment when the dispute does not involve a material fact.” Burton v. Downey, 805 F.3d 776, 783 (7th Cir. 2015). The evidence must be such “that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         ANALYSIS

         Infringement

         Defendants argue that Plaintiff cannot show infringement of the ‘470 Patent and the ‘579 Patent. Patent infringement occurs when someone “without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.” 35 U.S.C. § 271(a). “Patent infringement involves both claim construction and application of the claim to the accused product.” Crystal Semiconductor Corp. v. TriTech Microelectronics Int'l, Inc., 246 F.3d 1336, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (citing Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1996)). “The infringement inquiry remains focused at all times on the claim language, as illuminated by the written description and the prosecution history.” Id. at 1345-46 (citing Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1309 (Fed. Cir. 1999)). Whether the claim, as construed, matches the accused product is a question of fact. ActiveVideo Networks, Inc. v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 694 F.3d 1312, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

         “The patentee has the burden of proving infringement by a preponderance of the evidence.” Centricut, LLC v. Esab Grp., Inc., 390 F.3d 1361, 1367 (Fed. Cir. 2004). A patentee must show that every limitation of the allegedly infringed patent claims exists in the accused device in order to establish infringement. Neopost Industrie B.V. v. PFE Int'l, Inc., 403 F.Supp.2d 669, 676 (N.D. Ill. 2005) (citing Oakley, Inc. v. Sunglass Hut Int'l, 316 F.3d 1331, 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Amazon.com, Inc. v. Barnesandnoble.com. Inc., 239 F.3d 1343, 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2001)). The failure to meet any limitation of a patent claim defeats an allegation of literal infringement. Id. (citing Rohm & Haas ...


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