Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Think Products, Inc. v. ACCO Brands Corp.

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

December 5, 2019

THINK PRODUCTS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ACCO BRANDS CORPORATION and ACCO BRANDS USA, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Andrea R. Wood, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Think Products, Inc. has sued Defendants ACCO Brands Corporation and ACCO Brands USA, LLC, alleging that a series of products manufactured and sold by Defendants infringes upon two of Think Products' patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 9, 562, 375 (the “‘375 patent”) and 10, 125, 523 (the “‘523 patent”). Defendants contend that Think Products is collaterally estopped from pursuing this action because of a ruling from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”). That ruling, which was subsequently affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, invalidated two similar Think Products patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 8, 7717, 758 (the “‘758 patent”) and 8, 837, 144 (the “‘144 patent”)) for obviousness. Defendants assert that the ‘375 and ‘523 patents present an identical issue of obviousness that cannot be relitigated in this Court. Now before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment of invalidity. (Dkt. No. 38.) For the reasons explained below, the Court grants Defendants' motion.

         BACKGROUND

         I. The Asserted Patents

         This litigation concerns the alleged infringement of two Think Products patents for devices designed to secure portable electronic devices, such as tablets or laptops, to a substantially immoveable object. (Compl., Exs. 1-2 (the ‘375 Patent and the ‘523 Patent respectively), Dkt. Nos. 1-1, 1-2.) The patents disclose security locking devices for portable electronics. The parties agree that Claim 1 of the ‘375 Patent is illustrative of the asserted claims by Think Products. Moreover, the claims asserted in the ‘375 patent and the ‘523 patent, the parties' arguments regarding those patents, and the final decisions from the PTAB with respect to those patents are all substantially similar in their description of the claims. The parties do not appear to dispute this. (See Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (“DSOMF”) ¶ 33, Dkt. No. 40.) The same is true of the ‘758 patent and the ‘144 patent. (See DSOMF ¶ 7.) Thus, to avoid unnecessary repetition, the Court adopts the approach taken by the parties and focuses on the claims presented in the ‘375 patent and the ‘758 patent as illustrative of all the asserted claims. Specifically, the ‘375 patent discloses in Claim 1:

a locking assembly for securing an electronic device having a housing to a substantially immoveable [sic] object, the locking assembly comprising:
a locking member having a locking end that protrudes from the housing of the electronic device for locking use; and,
a locking device with a locking mechanism configured with an opening to receive the locking end of the locking member to actuate the locking mechanism, securely grasping the locking end for engaging and locking the locking member and the electronic device to the locking device,
wherein the locking member is received in the opening in the locking device to actuate the locking mechanism upon insertion solely by an axial movement.

(Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J, Ex. 1, ‘375 Patent at 19, Dkt. No. 39-1.) The ‘523 patent discloses a similar locking mechanism. (Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J, Ex. 2, ‘523 Patent at 19, Dkt. No. 39-2.)

         Defendants manufacture a series of laptop locks, called ClickSafe computer products, that include a cable for attaching a portable electronic device to substantially immoveable objects, such as tables. (DSOMF ¶ 32.) Think Products has sued Defendants, claiming that these products infringe upon the inventions claimed by Think Products in the ‘375 patent and the ‘523 patent. In addition to their Answer to Think Products' Complaint, Defendants have asserted four counterclaims seeking declaratory judgments of invalidity and unenforceability with respect to the ‘375 and ‘523 patents. (Dkt. No. 34.) Early in this case, prior to the completion of discovery or claim construction proceedings, Defendants moved for summary judgment on a theory of collateral estoppel. (Dkt. No. 38.) That issue is now before the Court.

         II. The PTAB and Federal Circuit Proceedings

         As the assertion of a collateral estoppel defense suggests, the current case is not the first instance of litigation between these parties. On November 12, 2014, Think Products sued Defendants for patent infringement in the Eastern District of New York with respect to the ‘758 and ‘144 patents. See Think Prod., Inc. v. ACCO Brands Corp., No. 14-cv-6659, 2019 WL 5694131, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. July 22, 2019). Together, the ‘758 and ‘144 patents “comprise a cable whereby one end is attached to an immovable object such as a desk, and the opposite side is outfitted with a locking device that grasps a protruding rod housed in the device, locking the device when inserted to safeguard against theft.” Id. at *1. The parties agree that Claim 1 of the ‘758 patent is illustrative of the claims made in both the ‘758 and the ‘144 patents that Defendants challenged in the Eastern District of New York. That claim discloses:

A locking assembly for securing a portable electronic device having at least one housing to a substantially immovable object, the locking assembly comprising: a captive security rod having a locking end and an anchoring end, wherein the anchoring end is passed through the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.