Patent Category Corp. v. Target Corp., CV 06-7311 CAS (CWx).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
Citation567 F.Supp.2d 1171
Docket NumberNo. CV 06-7311 CAS (CWx).,CV 06-7311 CAS (CWx).
PartiesPATENT CATEGORY CORP. v. TARGET CORP. and Franklin Sports, Inc.
Decision Date16 July 2008

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567 F.Supp.2d 1171
TARGET CORP. and Franklin Sports, Inc.
No. CV 06-7311 CAS (CWx).
United States District Court, C.D. California.
July 16, 2008.

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Diana Chen, Grant E. Kinsel, Lori V. Minassian, William J. Robinson, Foley and Lardner LLP, Stephen M. Lobbin, Manatt Phelps and Phillips LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Robert J. McAughan, Locke Liddell and Sapp, Houston, TX, Stephan J. Nickels, Foley & Lardner LLP, Madison, WI, for Patent Category Corp.

Antroy Arreola, Pankti Patel, Robert J. McAughan, Locke Liddell & Sapp, Houston, TX, Grant E. Kinsel, Foley and Lardner LLP, Keith G. Wileman, Cory A. Baskin, Locke Lord Bissell and Liddell, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Target Corp. and Franklin Sports, Inc.




CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.


Plaintiff Patent Category Corp. ("plaintiff or "PCC") owns the rights to U.S. Patent No. 6,266,904 ("the '904 patent") issued on July 31, 2001, and U.S. Patent No. 6,604,537 ("the '537 patent"), issued on August 12, 2003. On November 15, 2006, plaintiff filed the instant suit against defendants Target Corp. ("Target") and Franklin Sports, Inc. ("Franklin") alleging that defendants are infringing plaintiffs patents. Defendant Franklin is a distributor of at least fifteen models of collapsible, spring-form soccer goals ("Pop-Up Goals"), which plaintiff alleges infringe its patents.1 Franklin purchased these accused products from The Ninja Corp. UAE ("Ninja").2 Id. Defendant Target Corp. ("Target") sells Pop-Up Goals to consumers pursuant to an agreement with Franklin.

On May 2, 2008, plaintiff filed the present motion seeking summary judgment of infringement with regard to the '537 and '904 patents. Defendants filed their opposition on May 19, 2008. On May 27, 2008, plaintiff filed its reply to defendants' opposition. On May 6, 2008, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a determination that the '904 patent is invalid, and also a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement as to the '537 patent. On May 19, 2008, plaintiff filed oppositions to defendants' motions for summary judgment. On May 22, 2008, defendants filed their replies to plaintiffs oppositions. A hearing was held on the parties' motions on June 2, 2008. At the

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pretrial conference held on July 7, 2008, the Court gave its ruling on the instant motions. Plaintiff requested leave to file supplemental briefing in response thereto. The Court granted this request. Plaintiff filed its supplemental brief on July 8, 2008. Defendants filed their opposition to plaintiffs supplemental brief on July 10, 2008. After carefully considering the parties' arguments the Court finds and concludes as follows.



The application for the '537 patent, entitled "Collapsible Structures," was filed on March 8, 2001. Declaration of Lori V. Minassian in Supp. of Pl.'s Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ") ("Minassian Decl."), Ex. 1 ('537 patent) at 000003. The application for the '537 patent states that Yu Zheng is the inventor, and that PCC is the assignee of the '537 patent. Id. On August 12, 2003, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the "PTO") issued the '537 patent. Id.

The '537 discloses a collapsible structure, which may be provided in various shapes and sizes. It has a deployed configuration, and a smaller collapsed configuration. The section of the '537 patent entitled "Background of the Invention" sets forth the background of the types of collapsible structures that have been used by adults and children for such purposes as dollhouses, action figure play houses, as well as tents, cabanas, and other similar outdoor structures used for camping. Id. at 000016.

In the section headed "Summary of the Disclosure," the '537 patent states:

The present invention provides a collapsible structure which is convenient to use, to transport, and to store, and which offers a wide variety of uses to the user.

In order to accomplish the objects of the present invention, the collapsible structures according to the present invention are provided with first and second wall panels each wall panel having a foldable frame member having a folded and unfolded orientation, a frame retaining sleeve for retaining the respective frame member, and a fabric material substantially covering each frame member to form the panel for each frame member when the frame member is in the unfolded orientation. The fabric assumes the unfolded orientation of its associated frame member. The foldable frame member of each wall panel further includes a top side and a bottom side, with the frame retaining sleeve of the wall panel stitched along the length of its top side of the second wall panel to form a hinged connection.



The application for the '904 patent, entitled "Collapsible Structures Supported on a Pole," was filed on February 1, 1999. Minassian Decl., Ex. 2 ('904 patent) at 000022. The application for the '904 patent also states that Yu Zheng is the inventor, and that PCC is the assignee of the '904 patent. Id. On July 31, 2001, the PTO issued the '904 patent. Id.

The '904 patent discloses a collapsible object supported by a pole, which pole is attached to a foldable frame with fabric material covering portions of the foldable frame to form a panel. The background section of the '904 patent sets forth a description of the prior art:

Collapsible objects have recently become very popular. These objects have one or more panels which may be twisted and folded to reduce the overall size of

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the structures to facilitate convenient storage and use .... One such application is for use as collapsible shelters or play structures .... Another such application is for use as collapsible sunshields .... Yet another application is for use as collapsible flying structures.

Id. at 000033.

In the section headed, "Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments," the '904 patent states:

The present invention provides collapsible objects that can be supported by a pole. The principles of the present invention can be applied to provide more convenient use and possible new uses for certain objects that are supported on poles, including but not limited to flags, games, umbrellas and exhibit media.




Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact" and "the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party has the initial burden of identifying relevant portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a fact or facts necessary for one or more essential elements of each cause of action upon which the moving party seeks judgment. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

If the moving party has sustained its burden, the nonmoving party must then identify specific facts, drawn from materials on file, that demonstrate that there is a dispute as to material facts on the elements that the moving party has contested. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The nonmoving party must not simply rely on the pleadings and must do more than make "conclusory allegations [in] an affidavit." Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111 L.Ed.2d 695 (1990). See also Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548. Summary judgment must be granted for the moving party if the nonmoving party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Id. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548. See also Abromson v. Am. Pac. Corp., 114 F.3d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1997).

In light of the facts presented by the nonmoving party, along with any undisputed facts, the Court must decide whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 & n. 3 (9th Cir.1987). When deciding a motion for summary judgment, "the inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts ... must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (citation omitted); Valley Nat'l Bank of Ariz, v. A.E. Rouse & Co., 121 F.3d 1332, 1335 (9th Cir.1997). Summary judgment for the moving party is proper when a rational trier of fact would not be able to find for the nonmoving party on the claims at issue. See Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348.


The patentee bears the burden of establishing infringement by the accused product by a preponderance of the evidence. Kegel Co. v. AMF Bowling, Inc., 127 F.3d 1420, 1425 (Fed.Cir.1997). Patent infringement requires that an accused product have all the same elements, or substantial equivalents thereof, present in

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the claim of the patent. Warner-Jenkinson Co. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 40, 117 S.Ct. 1040, 137 L.Ed.2d 146 (1997). If even one element, or limitation, is not present, the accused product does not literally infringe as a matter of law. Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1581 (Fed.Cir.1996). If an accused product does not literally infringe, it may still infringe a claim under the doctrine of equivalents if an element of the product is the substantial equivalent of the otherwise missing claim...

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