743 F.3d 831 (Fed. Cir. 2014), 2013-1238, Ring & Pinion Serv. Inc. v. ARB Corp. Ltd.

Docket Nº:2013-1238
Citation:743 F.3d 831
Opinion Judge:Moore, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:RING & PINION SERVICE INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ARB CORPORATION LTD., Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:LAWRENCE D. GRAHAM, Lowe Graham Jones, PLLC, of Seattle, Washington, argued for plaintiff-appellee. BENJAMIN J. BYER, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, of Seattle, Washington, argued for defendant-appellant. With him on the brief was STUART R. DUNWOODY.
Judge Panel:Before MOORE, CLEVENGER, and REYNA, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 19, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 
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743 F.3d 831 (Fed. Cir. 2014)

RING & PINION SERVICE INC., Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

ARB CORPORATION LTD., Defendant-Appellant

2013-1238

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

February 19, 2014

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in No. 09-CV-0586, Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.

         LAWRENCE D. GRAHAM, Lowe Graham Jones, PLLC, of Seattle, Washington, argued for plaintiff-appellee.

         BENJAMIN J. BYER, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, of Seattle, Washington, argued for defendant-appellant. With him on the brief was STUART R. DUNWOODY.

         Before MOORE, CLEVENGER, and REYNA, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

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          Moore, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant ARB Corporation Ltd. (ARB) appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,591,098 (the '098 patent) to Ring & Pinion Service, Inc. (R& P). Because the district court erred by improperly applying the doctrine of claim

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vitiation, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter judgment of infringement for ARB.

         Background

         The invention claimed in the '098 patent is an improved automobile locking differential. '098 patent col. 1 l. 63--col. 2 l. 2. A differential is a mechanism that allows wheels to rotate at different speeds relative to each other. When locked, a locking differential distributes torque from the engine such that both wheels spin at the same rate. Claim 1 is representative:

A locking differential comprising

a differential carrier... , a locking means... cylinder means formed in said differential carrier and housing an actuator position[ed] to cause movement of said locking means relative to said carrier....

         '098 patent claim 1 (emphasis added).

         R& P sought declaratory judgment that its Ziplocker product did not infringe the '098 patent. Following claim construction, the parties cross-moved for summary judgment. After briefing was complete, the parties jointly stipulated that there were " no issues of material fact regarding infringement under the doctrine of equivalents." J.A. 260. The parties agreed that the Ziplocker product literally met every limitation of claim 1 except the " cylinder means formed in... " limitation, but that the Ziplocker included an " equivalent" cylinder. Id. Moreover, the parties agreed that the cylinder in the Ziplocker " would have been foreseeable to a person having ordinary skill in the art at the time the application for the '098 patent was filed." Id.

         The parties agreed that " should the Court hold... that foreseeability of an equivalent at the time of application prevents use of the doctrine of equivalents,... the accused differential would not infringe under the doctrine of equivalents." Id. (emphasis added). In the alternative, they further agreed that " should the Court hold... that foreseeability at the time of application does not prevent use of the doctrine of equivalents,... the accused differential would infringe under the doctrine of equivalents." Id. (emphasis added). Thus, the parties agreed that the outcome of the case would be determined by the resolution of a single legal issue: whether an equivalent is barred under the doctrine of equivalents because it was foreseeable at the time of the patent application. The district court entered an order approving the parties' joint stipulation. Subsequently, the court requested that the parties submit additional briefing to address the all-limitations rule.

         The court held that, while foreseeability did not preclude the application of the doctrine of equivalents, a finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents would vitiate the " cylinder means formed in... " limitation. Therefore, the court...

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