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Riddell, Inc. v. Kranos Corp.

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

May 30, 2017

RIDDELL, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
KRANOS CORPORATION d/b/a SCHUTT SPORTS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge

         Riddell, Inc. has sued Kranos Corporation, doing business and referred to here as Schutt Sports, alleging that Schutt is infringing three of Riddell's patents for football helmets. One of these patents-U.S. Patent No. 8, 939, 818 (the '818 patent)-claims a priority date based on a provisional application filed almost eleven years earlier. Schutt has filed two motions for partial summary judgment on some of Riddell's infringement claims based on the '818 patent. In the first, Schutt argues that those claims are not entitled to the filing date of the provisional application. In the second, Schutt argues that those claims are anticipated by prior art and therefore invalid. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Schutt's motions.

         Background

         Riddell manufactures and sells football equipment including helmets. It owns the '818 patent, which is titled "Sports Helmet" and discloses a protective sports helmet designed to have increased strength and rigidity without additional weight. The application that led to issuance of the '818 patent was filed with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in March 2013 as a continuation of another patent owned by Riddell, the '118 patent. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts in Supp. of Its Mots. for Partial Summ. J. (Def.'s SOMF), Ex. 1 at SCHUTT009845-46. The application claimed entitlement to the filing date of a provisional application that was filed with the PTO on May 1, 2002. Id. The PTO granted the application for the '818 patent in January 2015.

         Schutt also manufactures and sells sports helmets. Riddell has filed suit against Schutt, alleging that its products infringe the '818 patent.1 Specifically, Riddell claims that Schutt's line of Vengeance football helmets infringe claims 1-3, 5-6, 8-12, 40-42, 49-50, 53, 56-58, 60-61, and 65 of the '818 patent. Schutt has filed two motions for summary judgment on Riddell's claims of infringement based on a subset of these claims. These motions center on what the parties refer to as the offset band limitation.

         This limitation is disclosed in claims 1-3, 5-6, 8-12, 40, and 60-61 (referred to by the parties as the asserted offset band claims). The disclosure in claim 1 is illustrative of the disputed limitation:

A football helmet comprising . . .
an offset band extending around the rear region and above the lower edge surface, the offset band including
an offset band wall having an inner band surface offset from the inner shell wall surface, and an outer band surface offset from the outer shell wall surface, and
a pair of angled transition walls, extending between the offset band wall and the rear region.

Id. at SCHUTT009866-67, 14:49-15:2. Schutt argues in its first motion for partial summary judgment that the offset band limitations are not disclosed in the provisional 1 Riddell also brings claims against Schutt based on the '118 patent. None of those claims are at issue in Schutt's motions for partial summary judgment. application and therefore Riddell cannot claim the date of the provisional application as the effective date for the asserted offset band claims. Schutt contends that the appropriate priority date is the date of the '818 application: March 15, 2013. In its second motion for partial summary judgment, Schutt argues that Riddell was selling helmets that met all the limitations of the asserted offset band claims prior to March 15, 2013 and therefore the claims are invalid as anticipated. Thus Schutt asks the Court to grant summary judgment in its favor on Riddell's claims of infringement based on the asserted offset band claims. Both parties agree that the Court cannot grant summary judgment based on invalidity if it denies summary judgment on the question of the priority date. See Pl. Riddell, Inc.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mots. for Partial Summ. J. (Pl.'s Opp'n) at 15; Def.'s Consolidated Reply in Supp. of Its Mots. for Partial Summ. J. (Def.'s Reply) at 14.

         In response, Riddell contends that the provisional application does disclose these limitations and therefore the effective filing date of the asserted offset band claims is May 1, 2002, before Riddell put the helmets up for sale. Riddell argues that figures 19 and 20 in the provisional application, reproduced below, disclose the offset band limitation. See Pl.'s Opp'n at 1.

         (Image ...


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