Narrow Claim Language Precludes Infringement on Summary Judgment
May 02, 2007
Last Month at the Federal Circuit - June 2007
Judges: Newman, Friedman (author), Prost
[Appealed from: C.D. Cal., Judge Selna]
In Foremost in Packaging Systems, Inc. v. Cold Chain Technologies, Inc., No. 06-1582 (Fed. Cir. May 2, 2007), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of SJ of noninfringement of claims 9, 13, and 22 of Foremost in Packaging Systems, Inc.’s (“Foremost”) U.S. Patent No. 5,294,302 (“the ’302 patent”).
The ’302 patent relates to insulated shipping containers that are designed to carry temperature-sensitive products such as pharmaceuticals and human tissue. These insulated shipping containers consist of an insulated cover and an insulated body. The insulated cover includes insulated blocks that extend downward from the insulated cover. The insulated body includes separate areas called coolant cavities in which the transported products are placed. When the cover is placed on the container, the insulated blocks descend into the coolant cavities.
Claims 9 and 13 of the ’302 patent state that “the insulated block [is] adapted to slidably engage the coolant cavity, thereby the coolant and the insulated block together substantially fill the coolant cavity.” The other claim at issue, claim 22, recites “an insulated cover adapted to engage the open end of the insulated body and having a configuration for minimizing air spaces within the cavities.” The district court construed claims 9, 13, and 22 to require that the insulated cover be inserted into the coolant cavity. As such, the district court found that Cold Chain Technologies, Inc.’s (“Cold Chain”) accused cooler in which the insulated block merely covers the opening of, but does not extend into, the coolant cavity, did not infringe claims 9, 13, and 22 of the ’302 patent.
On appeal, focusing mainly on the phrase “slidably engage the coolant cavity,” Foremost argued that even though the insulated block of Cold Chain’s cooler does not extend down into the coolant cavities, the claims of the ’302 patent are infringed because the insulated block “slidably engages” the coolant cavity.
The Federal Circuit rejected Foremost’s position and held that the district court correctly construed the claims. The Federal Circuit stated that “[i]f the insulating block does not extend down into the coolant cavities, the coolant and the insulated block cannot ‘together’ substantially fill the cavity,” as required by claims 9 and 13. Slip op. at 3. Moreover, regarding claim 22, the Federal Circuit stated that “[t]he only way the insulated cover can have ‘a configuration for minimizing air spaces within the cavities’ is if the cover is designed so that part of it extends downward into and therefore fills part of the coolant cavity.” Id. at 4. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of SJ of noninfringement of claims 9, 13, and 22 of the ’302 patent.