Cryovac Inc. v. Pechiney Plastic Packaging, Inc.

Citation430 F.Supp.2d 346
Decision Date17 April 2006
Docket NumberNo. CIV.A. 04-1278-KAJ.,CIV.A. 04-1278-KAJ.
PartiesCRYOVAC INC., Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant, v. PECHINEY PLASTIC PACKAGING, INC., Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Delaware

John W. Shaw, Esq., Karen E. Keller, Esq., Michele Sherretta, Esq., Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP, Wilmington, DE, Of Counsel: Ford F. Farabow, Jr., Esq., Joann M. Neth, Esq., Courtney B. Meeker, Esq., Mark J. Feldstein, Esq., Rebecca D. Hess, Esq., Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

N. Richard Powers, Esq., Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz, Wilmington, DE, Of Counsel: Donald P. Cassling, Esq., Steven R. Trybus, Esq., Shelley Smith, Esq., Brian P. O'Donnell, Esq., Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, IL, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JORDAN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This patent infringement case is set to be tried to a jury beginning on June 12, 2006. Plaintiff Cryovac, Inc. ("Cryovac") has accused defendant Pechiney Plastic Packaging, Inc. ("Pechiney") of willfully infringing claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 4,755,419 (issued July 5, 1988) (the "'419 patent"), and of tortious interference with contract and prospective business relations. (Docket Item ["D.I."] 185, the "Second Amended Complaint.") Pechiney has denied infringement and tortious interference, and has counter-claimed that the patent is invalid and unenforceable. (D.I. 260, Amended Answer to the Second Amended Complaint at 11-15.)

Presently before me are six motions filed by Cryovac and Pechiney. Pechiney has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Patent Issues (D.I. 195), a Motion for Summary Judgment on Lost Profits (D.I. 193), a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Tortious Interference Claims (D.I. 197), and a Motion to Strike an affidavit submitted by Cryovac (D.I. 281). Cryovac has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment that Pechiney Infringes Claim 11 of the '419 Patent (D.I. 201), and a Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony (D.I. 199). Jurisdiction is appropriate under 35 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338. For the reasons that follow, Cryovac's Motion for Summary Judgment (D.I. 201) will be granted as to literal infringement. Pechiney's Motion for Summary Judgment on Patent Issues (D.I. 195) will be granted as to infringement under the doctrine of equivalents, and denied in all other respects. Cryovac's Motion to Exclude Expert Testimony (D.I. 199) will be granted to the extent that Pechiney's experts will not be permitted to provide legal opinion or argument, and denied in all other respects. All of the other motions will be denied.

II. BACKGROUND
A. The '419 Patent

The '419 patent discloses "[a] multilayer film with a combination of oxygen barrier properties, toughness, shrinkability, and good optical properties" ('419 patent, Abstract), used "to package various articles, including perishable food products" (id. at col. 1, Ins. 10-11). Claim 11, the only claim asserted, is for:

An oriented coextruded film having at least seven layers arranged symmetrically comprising:

(a) a core layer comprising an ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (b) two intermediate layers each comprising a polyamide;

(c) two outer layers each comprising a polymeric material or blend of polymeric materials; and

(d) two layers, each comprising an adhesive polymeric material, which adhere each of said intermediate layers to a respective outer layer.

('419 patent, at col. 9, In. 67—col. 10, ln. 9).

The specification of the '419 patent defines various terms, including "oriented." U.S. Patent No. 4,755,419 at col. 3, Ins. 45-49. Additionally, the specification describes suitable components for each of the layers, and gives a preferred total thickness for each of the layers. (See '419 patent, at col. 5-6.) For example, the specification indicates that intermediate layers 12 and 14 "comprise polyamide, and more preferably, a copolymer of nylon 6 and nylon 12 . . . each layer can form between 5% and 25% of the total thickness of the multilayer film." (Id. at col. 5, lns. 7-22.) Similar examples are given for each of the other layers of the film. (See id. at col. 5, In. 23—col. 6 ln. 34 (discussing components of outer layers 16 and 18); id. at col. 6 lns. 39-68 (discussing adhesive layers 20 and 22).)

B. Pechiney's ClearShieldTM Product

Cryovac and Pechiney compete in the market for packaging materials for meat. Pechiney markets a product known as "ClearShield," which competes with Cryovac specifically in the bone-in, fresh, red meat packaging market. Cryovac alleges that Pechiney's ClearShield film infringes claim 11 of the '419 patent.

ClearShield is a coextruded seven layer film containing an ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer core layer, two intermediate layers, each comprising a polyamide, two adhesive layers made of polymeric material, and two outer layers made of polymeric material. (Deposition of Dr. Eldridge Mount, III,1 D.I. 202, Ex. 5 at 14:1-2; id. at 18:8-20:17.) The two outer layers of ClearShield, called the outer surface layer and outer sealant layer by Pechiney, have different thicknesses and chemical compositions. (Declaration of Michael Douglas,2 D.I. 213 at ¶¶19, 21-29.) For all twenty-six different product specifications for ClearShield, the outer surface layer of ClearShield has a thickness * * * of the total thickness of the film, while the outer sealant layer has a total thickness * * * (Id. at ¶ 19.) Additionally, for each of the twenty-six product specifications, the outer surface layer and the outer sealant layer contain different amounts of * * *, a slip and antiblock agent.3 (Id. at ¶¶21-24.) For all of the product specifications, the outer surface layer contains between * * *, and the outer sealant layer contains between * * *. (Id. at ¶¶21-24.)

C. Prior Art Films

In making its invalidity argument, Pechiney focuses on two prior art films that it alleges are "oriented" within the meaning of claim 11 of the '419 patent.

1. Allied Film

Commencing around 1983, Dr. Seymour G. Gilbert4 conducted a study for Allied Chemicals ("Allied") on a seven layer film having the structure HDPE/tie/nylon/EVOH/nylon/tie/HDPE (the "Allied Film"). (Declaration of Dr. Seymour G. Gilbert, D.I. 213, Ex. 4 at ¶9.) This study was described in at least one article that was publicly available in December of 1984, and one news release from Allied. (Id.) Dr. Gilbert stated in his declaration that, based on his recollection of experiments performed on the Allied Film on the Instron Tester, which "provides stress data relating to orientation," and "Cross Polarization to visualize orientation," it was oriented. (Id. at ¶16.) Dr. Gilbert's recollection provides the only evidence that this film was oriented, and there are no test results or other laboratory data regarding the orientation of this film.

2. ANR Film C

Allied disclosed in a news release a ninelayer film with the structure HDPE/tie/nylon/tie/EVOH/tie/nylon/tie/HDPE("ANR Film C"). (D.I. 216, Ex. 17 at A0226.) The results contained in that news release were presented to a regional conference of The Society of Plastics Engineers, Inc. on September 5 and 6, 1985. (Id., Ex. 16.) The news release disclosed that ANR Film C was 1.4 mils5 thick, and had certain barrier protection properties. (Id., Ex. 17 at A0227-29.) Pechiney asserts that this shows that the news release "inherently disclosed that ANR Film C was oriented." (D.I. 196 at 13.) There is no statement in the news release, however, that expressly indicates that ANR Film C was oriented. Additionally, the news release stated that "[c]ombinations of nylon and EVOH do not, Dr. Gilbert's tests showed, produce a significant synergistic effect in terms of barrier properties compared to a nylon-only coextrusion or an EVOH-only coextrusion." (D.I. 216, Ex. 17 at A0224.)

D. Cryovac's Relationship with National Beef

Cryovac and National Beef Packing, LLC ("National Beef") had a business relationship that began sometime in the late 1990s. (D.I. 251, Deposition of Terry L. Wilkerson6 at 110:25-111:10.) During that period, National Beef purchased * * * of its packaging requirements for particular products from Cryovac. (Id. at 110:25-111:10, 130:1-17, 131:12-133:12.) In March of 2003 and January of 2004, Cryovac negotiated agreements with National Beef that covered the periods from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2005, and January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2007, respectively. (D.I. 250 at March 2003 Agreement, January 2004 Agreement.) Both Agreements stated that they would "serve as documentation of our current packaging agreement." (Id. at B001, B003.) Additionally, both agreements provided discounts to National Beef on various products sold by Cryovac, which discounts were "contingent upon combined minimum annual purchases of Barrier Bags, TBG Bags, HS film and Case-Ready lidding exceeding * * *." (Id.) Both agreements also provided for cash rebates based on the value of goods purchased by National Beef from Cryovac, starting at * * *. (Id. at B001, B004.) The January 2004 agreement further provided that, "[i]n the event that National Beefs packaging purchases fall short of 2003 minimum volume targets due to market conditions other than the use of competitive supply, Cryovac will consider the minimum volume target to have been met." (Id. at B003).

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A. Summary Judgment

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a party is entitled to summary judgment if a court determines from its examination of "the pleadings, depositions, answers to Interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any," that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). In determining whether there is a genuine issue of material fact, a court must review the evidence and construe all inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving p...

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