935 F.2d 1555 (Fed. Cir. 1991), 90-1528, Vas-Cath Inc. v. Mahurkar

Docket Nº:90-1528, 91-1032.
Citation:935 F.2d 1555
Party Name:19 U.S.P.Q.2d 1111 VAS-CATH INCORPORATED and Gambro, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Sakharam D. MAHURKAR, and Quinton Instruments Company, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:June 07, 1991
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 
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Page 1555

935 F.2d 1555 (Fed. Cir. 1991)

19 U.S.P.Q.2d 1111

VAS-CATH INCORPORATED and Gambro, Inc., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

Sakharam D. MAHURKAR, and Quinton Instruments Company,

Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 90-1528, 91-1032.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

June 7, 1991

Rehearing Denied July 8, 1991.

Suggestion for Rehearing In Banc

Declined July 29, 1991.

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William L. Mentlik, Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik, Westfield,

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N.J., argued, for plaintiffs-appellees. With him on the brief, were Roy H. Wepner, John R. Nelson and Joseph S. Littenberg.

Raymond P. Niro, Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, Chicago, Ill., argued, for defendants-appellants. With him on the brief, were Joseph N. Hosteny and John C. Janka. Of Counsel was Michael P. Mazza.

Michael J. Sweedler, Darby & Darby, New York City, represented defendants-appellants, Quinton Instruments Co.

Before RICH, MICHEL and PLAGER, Circuit Judges.

RICH, Circuit Judge.

Sakharam D. Mahurkar and Quinton Instruments Company (collectively Mahurkar) appeal from the September 12, 1990 partial final judgment 1 of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Easterbrook, J., sitting by designation, in Case No. 88 C 4997. Granting partial summary judgment to Vas-Cath Incorporated and its licensee Gambro, Inc. (collectively Vas-Cath), the district court declared Mahurkar's two United States utility patents Nos. 4,568,329 ('329 patent) and 4,692,141 ('141 patent), titled "Double Lumen Catheter," invalid as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 102(b). In reaching its decision, reported at 745 F.Supp. 517, 17 USPQ2d 1353, the district court concluded that none of the twenty-one claims of the two utility patents was entitled, under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 120, to the benefit of the filing date of Mahurkar's earlier-filed United States design patent application Serial No. 356,081 ('081 design application), which comprised the same drawings as the utility patents, because the design application did not provide a "written description of the invention" as required by 35 U.S.C. Sec. 112, first paragraph. We reverse the grant of summary judgment with respect to all claims.

BACKGROUND

Sakharam Mahurkar filed the '081 design application, also titled "Double Lumen Catheter," on March 8, 1982. The application was abandoned on November 30, 1984. Figures 1-6 of the '081 design application are reproduced below.

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As shown, Mahurkar's catheter comprises a pair of tubes (lumens) designed to allow blood to be removed from an artery, processed in an apparatus that removes impurities, and returned close to the place of removal. Prior art catheters utilized concentric circular lumens, while Mahurkar's employs joined semi-circular tubes that come to a single tapered tip. Advantageously, the puncture area of Mahurkar's semicircular catheter is 42% less than that of a coaxial catheter carrying the same quantity of blood, and its conical tip yields low rates of injury to the blood. The prior art coaxial catheters are now obsolete; Mahurkar's catheters appear to represent more than half of the world's sales. 745 F.Supp. at 520, 17 USPQ2d at 1353-54.

After filing the '081 design application, Mahurkar also filed a Canadian Industrial Design application comprising the same drawings plus additional textual description. On August 9, 1982, Canadian Industrial Design 50,089 (Canadian '089) issued on that application.

More than one year later, on October 1, 1984, Mahurkar filed the first of two utility patent applications that would give rise to the patents now on appeal. Notably, both utility applications included the same drawings as the '081 design application. 2 Serial No. 656,601 ('601 utility application)

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claimed the benefit of the filing date of the '081 design application, having been denominated a "continuation" thereof. In an Office Action mailed June 6, 1985, the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) examiner noted that "the prior application is a design application," but did not dispute that the '601 application was entitled to its filing date. On January 29, 1986, Mahurkar filed Serial No. 823,592 ('592 utility application), again claiming the benefit of the filing date of the '081 design application (the '592 utility application was denominated a continuation of the '601 utility application). In an office action mailed April 1, 1987, the examiner stated that the '592 utility application was "considered to be fully supported by applicant's parent application SN 356,081 filed March 8, 1982 [the '081 design application]." The '601 and '592 utility applications issued in 1986 and 1987, respectively, as the '329 and '141 patents, the subjects of this appeal. The independent claims of both patents are set forth in the Appendix hereto.

Vas-Cath sued Mahurkar in June 1988, seeking a declaratory judgment that the catheters it manufactured did not infringe Mahurkar's '329 and '141 utility patents. 3 Vas-Cath's complaint alleged, inter alia, that the '329 and '141 patents were both invalid as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 102(b) by Canadian '089. Vas-Cath's anticipation theory was premised on the argument that the '329 and '141 patents were not entitled under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 120 4 to the filing date of the '081 design application because its drawings did not provide an adequate "written description" of the claimed invention as required by 35 U.S.C. Sec. 112, first paragraph.

Mahurkar counterclaimed, alleging infringement. Both parties moved for summary judgment on certain issues, including validity. For purposes of the summary judgment motion, Mahurkar conceded that, if he could not antedate it, Canadian '089 would represent an enabling and thus anticipating Sec. 102(b) reference against the claims of his '329 and '141 utility patents. 745 F.Supp. at 521, 17 USPQ2d at 1355. Vas-Cath conceded that the '081 design drawings enabled one skilled in the art to practice the claimed invention within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. Sec. 112, first paragraph. Id. Thus, the question before the district court was whether the disclosure of the '081 design application, namely, the drawings without more, adequately meets the "written description" requirement also contained in Sec. 112, first paragraph, so as to entitle Mahurkar to the benefit of the 1982 filing date of the '081 design application for his two utility patents and thereby antedates Canadian '089.

Concluding that the drawings do not do so, and that therefore the utility patents are anticipated by Canadian '089, the district court held the '329 and '141 patents wholly invalid under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 102(b), id. at 524, 17 USPQ2d at 1358, and subsequently granted Mahurkar's motion for entry of a partial final judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b) on the validity issue. This appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

The issue before us is whether the district court erred in concluding, on summary judgment, that the disclosure of the '081 design application does not provide a Sec. 112, first paragraph "written description" adequate to support each of the claims of

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the '329 and '141 patents. If the court so erred as to any of the 21 claims at issue, the admittedly anticipatory disclosure of Canadian '089 will have been antedated (and the basis for the court's grant of summary judgment nullified) as to those claims.

In reviewing the district court's grant of summary judgment, we are not bound by its holding that no material facts are in dispute, and must make an independent determination as to whether the standards for summary judgment have been met. C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Systems, 911 F.2d 670, 673, 15 USPQ2d 1540, 1542-43 (Fed.Cir.1990). Summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is "genuine," that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

The "Written Description" Requirement of Sec. 112

The first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. Sec. 112 requires that

[t]he specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention.

(Emphasis added). Application of the "written description" requirement, derived from the portion of Sec. 112 emphasized above, is central to resolution of this appeal. The district court, having reviewed this court's decisions on the subject, remarked that "[u]nfortunately, it is not so easy to tell what the law of the Federal Circuit is." 745 F.Supp. at 522, 17 USPQ2d at 1356. Perhaps that is so, and, therefore, before proceeding to the merits, we review the case law development of the "written description" requirement with a view to improving the situation. 5

The cases indicate that the "written description" requirement most often comes into play where claims not presented in the application when filed are presented thereafter. Alternatively, patent applicants often seek the benefit of the filing date of an earlier-filed foreign or United States application under 35 U.S.C. Sec. 119 or 35 U.S.C. Sec. 120, respectively, for claims of a later-filed application. The question raised by these situations is most...

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