Fort Wayne, IN – The Northern District of Indiana has granted partial summary judgment in a patent infringement case. Geocel LLC, of Elkhart, Indiana, had filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana seeking a declaratory judgment that patent no. RE 41,586, PITCH POCKET AND SEALANT, which has been issued by the US Patent Office and is owned by Chem Link Inc., of Schoolcraft, Michigan, is invalid and has not been infringed.
Geocel filed this patent infringement lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that some of claims in the ‘586 patent were invalid and that Geocel had not infringement the patent. Specifically, Geocel alleged claims 21-25 violate the rule against recapture based upon the fact that Chem Link had previously applied for a patent of similar technology that had been repeatedly rejected by the U.S. Patent Office. The issue in this summary judgment decision was whether claims 21-25 of the ‘586 patent violate the rule against recapture, which “prevents a patentee from regaining through reissue subject matter that he surrendered in an effort to obtain allowance of the original claims.” The court here concluded that the claims did not violate the rule against recapture, and therefore granted partial summary judgment in favor of Chem Link, indicating that the patent is valid. There are still unresolved issues in the case and it remains on the docket.
Practice Tip: As the court explained, Title 35 of the United States Code, Section 251 provides in part that: “Whenever any patent is, through error without any deceptive intention, deemed wholly or partly inoperative or invalid . . . by reason of the patentee claiming more or less than he had a right to claim in the patent, the Director shall, on the surrender of such patent and the payment of the fee required by law, reissue the patent for the invention disclosed in the original patent, and in accordance with a new and amended application, for the unexpired part of the term of the original patent. No new matter shall be introduced into the application for reissue.” The rule against recapture “prevents a patentee from regaining through reissue subject matter that he surrendered in an effort to obtain allowance of the original claims.” MBO Labs., Inc. v.Becton, Dickinson & Co., 602 F.3d 1306, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (quoting Hester Indus., Inc. v.Stein, Inc., 142 F.3d 1472, 1480 (Fed. Cir. 1998)).