Seb S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 99 Civ. 9284(BDP).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Writing for the CourtBarrington D. Parker, Jr.
Citation137 F.Supp.2d 285
PartiesSEB S.A., Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant, v. MONTGOMERY WARD & CO., INC., and Global-Tech Appliances, Inc., and Pentalpha Enterprises Ltd., Defendants-Counterclaimants.
Docket NumberNo. 99 Civ. 9284(BDP).
Decision Date20 March 2001
137 F.Supp.2d 285
SEB S.A., Plaintiff-Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
MONTGOMERY WARD & CO., INC., and Global-Tech Appliances, Inc., and Pentalpha Enterprises Ltd., Defendants-Counterclaimants.
No. 99 Civ. 9284(BDP).
United States District Court, S.D. New York.
March 20, 2001.

Page 286

Norman Zivin, Robert T. Maldonado, Cooper & Dunham, New York City, for plaintiff.

William Dunnegan, Perkins & Dunnegan, New York City, for defendant.

SUPPLEMENTAL FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

BARRINGTON D. PARKER, Jr., District Judge.


Plaintiff, SEB S.A. ("SEB") commenced this action in August 1999 against Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc.,1 Global-Tech Appliances, Inc., and Pentalpha Enterprises Ltd. ("Pentalpha"), claiming that a deep fryer, marketed by Montgomery Ward LLC and manufactured by Pentalpha, infringed United States Patent No. 4,995,312 (the "'312 Patent"). See 35 U.S.C. § 271.

On December 15, 1999, this Court, based on Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law dated November 23, 1999, issued a preliminary injunction against defendants' continued sale of the fryer. Defendants appealed the preliminary injunction to the United Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which affirmed on November 6, 2000. See 243 F.3d 566, 2000 WL 1673667 (Fed.Cir.2000). Those initial Findings and Conclusions are incorporated herein by reference.

In its earlier Findings, the Court construed claim 1 of the '312 Patent and concluded that SEB was likely to prove at trial that the fryer infringed claim 1. Specifically, the Court preliminarily enjoined defendants from:

... making, using, importing, selling, distributing, advertising, or offering for sale deep fryers which are covered by claim 1 of the U.S.Patent No. 4.995,312 ["the '312 Patent"], including the deep fryer supplied by Pentalpha and/or Global-Tech and sold by Montgomery Ward designated ADMIRAL® Large Capacity 3 qt. Deluxe Fryer Model No. 4564205.

Page 287

After the December injunction, defendants developed and marketed a modified deep fryer—Admiral, Model No. 4567703—which plaintiff contends is virtually identical to the enjoined model. SEB moved on August 3, 2000 for a supplemental preliminary injunction and to cite defendants for contempt claiming that the modified fryer still infringes the '312 Patent.

Finding that the modified fryer infringes the '312 Patent by equivalences, this Court grants SEB further injunction relief against Pentalpha. The Court's Supplemental Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law follow.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Since this Court's December 19, 1999 preliminary injunction, defendant Pentalpha has been marketing through Montgomery Ward a redesigned ADMIRAL deep fryer (Model No. 4567703). Like the enjoined model, the modified fryer has the "cool touch" feature and incorporates no thermal bridges between the skirt and the pan. This modified fryer is virtually identical to the enjoined fryer, Model No. 45642205.

2. The modified fryer still has an insulated supporting screw which connects the metal pan to the base of the skirt. The contact established by that insulated support screw does not avoid infringement of the '312 patent.

3. Defendants have added to the assembly four additional vertical posts which extend upwardly from the bottom of the skirt toward the bottom of the pan. To prevent heat from transferring from the pan to the skirt, a portion of each post is made from insulating plastic. Thus, the posts do not create thermal bridges between the pan and the skirt, and each constitutes a "thermally insulated stabilizing element at the bottom of the hot oil pan." These additional posts do not avoid infringement.

4. The four insulated posts in the modified fryer do not perform any function beyond the function performed by the central, insulated screw in the enjoined fryer. Both avoid a thermal bridge between the skirt and the pan.

5. In the modified fryer, defendants have replaced the insulating ring with a series of insulating ring segments. The ring segments are made from heat resistant plastic and are attached and spaced circumferentially around the top edge of the skirt in the shape of a ring. The metal pan is suspended from the ring segments.

6. The ring segments in the modified fryer do not allow any appreciable amount of heat to escape from the space between the pan and the skirt. The pan includes a lip along its upper edge which bends over and covers any crack which might be found between the metal pan and the outer plastic housing.

7. The ring segments in the modified fryer perform their functions in essentially the same way as the continuous ring in the enjoined fryer. Both are physical, heat-resistant structures that create a thermal barrier between the skirt and the pan. Both permit the use of low-grade plastics in the manufacture of the skirt. Both make possible the fryers' "supercool" or "cool touch exterior" features.

8. The insulating ring segments used in the modified fryer provide thermal separation at the point of contact between the plastic skirt and the metal pan, and they support the pan at its upper edge. Thus, the use of ring segments, as opposed to the use of a continuous ring, do not change the essential nature of the device.

9. Defendants are selling the modified fryer under the same trademark ADMIRAL,

Page 288

and in the same retail box that they used to sell the enjoined fryer. The box displays an image of the enjoined fryer and emphasizes the "cool touch exterior" feature. The sale of the modified fryer in the same retail box as the enjoined fryer, falsely leads the public to conclude that defendants are free to sell a product that has been preliminary enjoined.

10. The '312 patent specification states that the insulating ring perform five functions:

it defines the spacing between the pan 1 and the external plastic skirt 3,

it serves to support and to center the pan 1 within the skirt 3,

it completely closes-off the air space between the pan 1 and the skirt 3,

it permits free expansion of the pan 1 with respect to the skirt 3,

it has the effect of limiting heat transfer between the pan 1 and the skirt 3.

11. Independent claim 1 does not contain any requirement that the ring functions to seal the air space. Rather, dependent claim 13 recites the function of the ring sealing the air space. In addition, independent claim 1 does not contain any requirement directed to the flow (or lack of flow) of the air contained in the air space between the pan and the exterior skirt.

12. The ring segments define the spacing between the pan and the skirt, support and center the pan within the skirt, permit free expansion of the pan with respect to the skirt, and limit heat transfer between the pan and the skirt.

13. The insulating ring segments perform...

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3 practice notes
  • Seb, S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 99 Civ. 9284(SCR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 9, 2006
    ...injunction motion, and, in granting the second motion, Judge Parker held that the modified Page 338 fryer also infringed SEB's patent. 137 F.Supp.2d 285, 289 The case was reassigned to Judge Richard C. Casey after Judge Parker was elevated to the Second Circuit. On October 1, 2002, Judge Ca......
  • Seb S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 2009-1099.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • February 5, 2010
    ...the modified fryer infringes at least claim 1 of the '312 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 137 F.Supp.2d 285 (S.D.N.Y.2001) ("DOE Opinion"). Pentalpha's primary argument, which the district court did not adopt, was based on prosecution history est......
  • Giantceutical, Inc. v. Ken Mable, Inc., No. 04 Civ. 8601(VM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 16, 2005
    ...a "clear or strong showing" of infringement and validity, irreparable injury is presumed. SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., 137 F.Supp.2d 285, 290 (S.D.N.Y.2001). Because Giantceutical has not made such a showing, there is no presumption of irreparable harm in this case. Giantceutica......
3 cases
  • Seb, S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 99 Civ. 9284(SCR).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 9, 2006
    ...injunction motion, and, in granting the second motion, Judge Parker held that the modified Page 338 fryer also infringed SEB's patent. 137 F.Supp.2d 285, 289 The case was reassigned to Judge Richard C. Casey after Judge Parker was elevated to the Second Circuit. On October 1, 2002, Judge Ca......
  • Seb S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., No. 2009-1099.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • February 5, 2010
    ...the modified fryer infringes at least claim 1 of the '312 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., 137 F.Supp.2d 285 (S.D.N.Y.2001) ("DOE Opinion"). Pentalpha's primary argument, which the district court did not adopt, was based on prosecution history est......
  • Giantceutical, Inc. v. Ken Mable, Inc., No. 04 Civ. 8601(VM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 16, 2005
    ...a "clear or strong showing" of infringement and validity, irreparable injury is presumed. SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc., 137 F.Supp.2d 285, 290 (S.D.N.Y.2001). Because Giantceutical has not made such a showing, there is no presumption of irreparable harm in this case. Giantceutica......

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