221 F.3d 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2000), 99-1537, Ishida Co. v Taylor

Docket Nº:99-1537
Citation:221 F.3d 1310
Party Name:ISHIDA CO., LTD. and HEAT & CONTROL, INC., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. ALFRED A. TAYLOR and TNA AUSTRALIA PTY LTD., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:July 20, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 
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Page 1310

221 F.3d 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2000)

ISHIDA CO., LTD. and HEAT & CONTROL, INC., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

ALFRED A. TAYLOR and TNA AUSTRALIA PTY LTD., Defendants-Appellants.

99-1537

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

July 20, 2000

Appealed from: United States District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Jeremy Fogel

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Jai Ho Rho, Hogan & Hartson, LLP, of Los Angeles, California, argued for plaintiffs-appellees. With him on the brief were Stuart Lubitz; and David Lubitz, Hogan & Hartson, of Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

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Dennis M. McWilliams, Lee, Mann, Smith, McWilliams, Sweeney & Ohlson, of Chicago, Illinois, argued for defendants-appellants. With him on the brief were William M. Lee, Jr. and William J. Lenz.

Before MICHEL, CLEVENGER, and RADER, Circuit Judges.

RADER, Circuit Judge.

Alfred A. Taylor and TNA Australia Pty Ltd. (collectively, Taylor) claimed that Ishida's Apex Bagmaker infringed U.S. Patent No. 4,663,917 (the '917 patent). After construing the claims of the patent, the district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement. See Ishida Co. v. Alfred A. Taylor, No. C-98-20418-JF (N.D. Cal. Nov. 23, 1998 and Jan. 25, 1999) (Ishida I and Ishida II); Ishida Co. v. Alfred A. Taylor, C-98-20418-JF (N.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 1999) (Ishida III). Because the district court correctly construed the claims and granted summary judgment, this court affirms.

I.

The '917 patent claims a machine for packaging food products such as potato chips. In the packaging process, a continuous tube of package material enters the machine. The machine first seals the bottom end of the tube and feeds an appropriate amount of product into the tube through the open end. Stripper bars converge on two sides of the open end and move down its length to "strip," i.e., move the product towards the sealed end of the tube. Finally, the machine seals the open end of the tube and then severs the completed bag from the tube. This sequence of steps repeats continuously.

The prior art performed all of these operations with either separately driven and timed machines, or with separate components of a single machine, each operating intermittently in the proper sequence. The '917 patent describes, in contrast, a single integrated machine that performs all of the operations in continuous motion. The patented machine features two shafts, which rotate on each side of the tube to strip, seal, and sever. The mechanical design of the machine determines the timing and sequencing of these steps. According to the '917 patent, the invention is faster and more reliable than non-integrated machines.

Arranged and labeled for convenience, claim 1, the only independent claim of the '917 patent, reads:

1. A stripping and sealing assembly for packaging apparatus, said apparatus including a product delivery head, a drive assembly to pass a tubular bag material past said delivery head so that product delivered from said head is located within said tubular bag material, said assembly including

[A] a pair of opposing sealing and stripping means located on opposite sides of said bag material at a position downstream of said delivery head relative to the direction of movement of said bag material through said apparatus, said sealing and stripping means being adapted to cooperate to sealingly close portions of said bag material and strip same,

[B] a first arm means supporting one of said sealing and stripping means, a second arm means supporting the other sealing and stripping means,

[1] and wherein the arms are rotatably driven in synchronism in opposite directions about spaced parallel axes extending generally transverse of the direction of movement of said bag material

[2] so that prior to sealing said bag material said sealing and stripping and means are moved along said bag material to strip same.

Figures 2 and 4 of the specification of the '917 patent illustrate two embodiments of the invention:

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[Tabular or Graphical Material Omitted]

[Tabular or Graphical Material Omitted]

In both embodiments, shafts rotate around fixed axes. These shafts move arms which, in turn, convert the rotational motion into linear motion of the stripper bars on each side of the tube during the stripping part of the cycle. In the first embodiment, Figure 2, the stripping and sealing apparatus is mounted on a spring-loaded carriage, 17, which is attached to an arm 15, which is driven by rotating shaft 16. The carriage is forced by spring 18 to follow a "cam track" 23. The track determines the motion of the arms and the attached apparatus.

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