Wahpeton Canvas Co. v. Bremer

Decision Date28 March 1997
Docket NumberNo. C 93-4093-MWB.,C 93-4093-MWB.
Citation958 F.Supp. 1347
PartiesWAHPETON CANVAS CO., South Dakota, Inc., a South Dakota Corporation, and Primewood, Inc., a North Dakota Corporation, Plaintiffs, v. Donald A. BREMER, and Donald W. Bremer, individuals doing business as Sioux City Tarp Manufacturing and Canvas Repair, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa

Lester J. Savit, Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, Chicago, IL, A.J. Stoik, Klass, Hanks, Stoos, Stoik & Villone, Sioux City, IA, for Wahpeton Canvas Co.

Jeffery D. Harty, Daniel J. Cosgrove, Zarley, McKee, Thomte, Voorhees & Sease, Des Moines, IA, for Bremer.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENNETT, District Judge.

                                      TABLE OF CONTENTS
                  I. INTRODUCTION .................................................... 1349
                 II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT .................................. 1350
                III. FINDINGS OF FACT ................................................ 1353
                     A. Undisputed Facts ............................................. 1353
                     B. Disputed Facts ............................................... 1354
                 IV. LEGAL ANALYSIS .................................................. 1355
                     A. Patent Validity .............................................. 1355
                        1. Defective Reissue Oath .................................... 1356
                        2. Invalidity in light of prior art .......................... 1357
                           a.  Anticipation of the '746 reissue patent ............... 1357
                           b.  Obviousness of the '746 patent ........................ 1358
                        3. Indefiniteness of the '746 reissue patent ................. 1359
                     B. Infringement ................................................. 1361
                     C. Antitrust Counterclaim ....................................... 1361
                        1.  "Attempt to monopolize" .................................. 1362
                        2.  The Kodak decision ....................................... 1363
                        3.  Bremer's monopolization claim ............................ 1365
                            a. Anticompetitive conduct ............................... 1365
                            b. Intent to monopolize .................................. 1367
                  V. CONCLUSION ...................................................... 1367
                

This is a patent infringement lawsuit involving a patent for roll-up tarp systems for covering truck trailers. The alleged infringers asserts an antitrust counterclaim. The patent holder has moved, in separate motions, for partial summary judgment as to the validity of its patent, infringement of the patent by the defendants as the result of sales of complete tarp units, complete repair kits, and the sale of other repair and replacement parts and service, and the insufficiency of the defendants' antitrust counterclaim.

I. INTRODUCTION

This lawsuit involves alleged infringement by defendant Donald A. Bremer d/b/a Sioux City Tarp Manufacturing and Canvas Repair ("Bremer") of a patent for a roll-up tarp for truck trailers. The patent is owned by plaintiff Primewood, Inc., and assigned to plaintiff Wahpeton Canvas Co., South Dakota, Inc. (collectively "Wahpeton"). On October 20, 1993, Wahpeton filed suit against Bremer alleging that Bremer's making, using, and selling of a roll-up tarp infringed the patent in suit. On April 7, 1994, Bremer filed his second amended answer and a counterclaim in which he alleges violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 2. Specifically, Bremer alleges in his counterclaim that Wahpeton has instructed its authorized dealers not to sell repair parts to Bremer and others similarly situated. Second Am. Answer and Countercl. at ¶ 14. Bremer asserts that by engaging in this course of conduct-refusing to sell repair parts-Wahpeton and its authorized dealers have entered into an illegal tying arrangement and have attempted to monopolize the secondary market for the sale of repair services and repair parts in violation of sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Id. at ¶ 18. On September 18, 1996, Wahpeton filed an amended complaint naming Donald W. Bremer as an additional defendant. Donald W. Bremer answered that amended complaint on October 3, 1996.1

On March 30, 1995, this court denied Bremer's motion for summary judgment and partial summary judgment. See Wahpeton Canvas Co. v. Bremer, 893 F.Supp. 863 (N.D.Iowa 1995), appeal denied, 64 F.3d 671 (Fed.Cir.1995). It is now Wahpeton's turn to seek summary judgment or partial summary judgment. This matter is presently before the court on Wahpeton's separate motions for partial summary judgment on its claim of infringement, for partial summary judgment on the validity of its patent, thus attempting to remove Bremer's affirmative defense of invalidity of the patent in suit, and for summary judgment on Bremer's antitrust counterclaim. Bremer has filed timely resistances to Wahpeton's motions.2 Bremer has also filed supplements to his resistances by leave of the court. In addition, Wahpeton has filed various reply memoranda. The motions are now deemed fully submitted.3

The court will consider first the standards applicable to motions for summary judgment, then consider the undisputed and disputed facts as asserted by the parties. Finally, the court will make its legal analysis of the issues raised by Wahpeton's various motions for summary judgment and Bremer's resistances.

II. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Because the standards for summary judgment are pertinent to both the factual background for the present motions and the legal analysis of those motions, the court turns first to those standards as articulated by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the court whose precedent is controlling in this patent case. "Summary judgment is appropriate in a patent case, as in other cases...." Nike, Inc. v. Wolverine World Wide, Inc., 43 F.3d 644, 646 (Fed.Cir.1994); Conroy v. Reebok Int'l, Ltd., 14 F.3d 1570, 1575 (Fed.Cir. 1994) ("The grant of summary judgment [in a patent case] is appropriate where the standards set forth in Rule 56(c) are satisfied."); Paragon Podiatry Lab., Inc. v. KLM Labs., Inc., 984 F.2d 1182, 1190 (Fed.Cir.1993); Continental Can Co. U.S.A., Inc. v. Monsanto Co., 948 F.2d 1264, 1265 (Fed.Cir.1991) ("Summary judgment is as available in patent cases as in other areas of litigation."); Becton Dickinson & Co. v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 922 F.2d 792, 795 (Fed.Cir.1990) ("As in other cases, the grant of summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, is appropriate in a patent case where no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.") (footnote omitted); C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc., 911 F.2d 670, 672 (Fed.Cir.1990); Johnston v. IVAC Corp., 885 F.2d 1574, 1576 (Fed.Cir.1989); Avia Group Int'l, Inc. v. L.A. Gear California, Inc., 853 F.2d 1557, 1561 (Fed.Cir.1988); Barmag Barmer Maschinenfabrik AG v. Murata Mach., Ltd., 731 F.2d 831, 835 (Fed.Cir. 1984); Chore-Time Equip., Inc. v. Cumberland Corp., 713 F.2d 774, 778-79 (Fed.Cir. 1983).

The Supreme Court has established that a summary judgment motion should be interpreted by the trial court to accomplish its purpose of disposing of factually unsupported claims, and the trial judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510-11, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1355-56, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Glaverbel Societe Anonyme v. Northlake Mktg. & Supply, Inc., 45 F.3d 1550, 1560 (Fed.Cir.1995) ("The purpose of summary judgment is to avoid an unnecessary trial, by enabling an expeditious procedure whereby, for issues on which there is no material factual dispute, the court can decide the controversy by applying the law to the undisputed facts," citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252, 106 S.Ct. at 2512); Continental Can Co. USA, Inc. v. Monsanto Co., 948 F.2d 1264, 1265 (Fed.Cir.1991). Rule 56 "is a vehicle for the convenience of the parties and courts, for use when the circumstances warrant; but is not a substitute for trial when decision of the controversy requires resolution of disputed factual issues." Glaverbel, 45 F.3d at 1560 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327, 106 S.Ct. at 2554-55).

Wahpeton has moved for summary judgment not only on its own claim of infringement, but on Bremer's counterclaim. Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for summary judgment on claims on which the movant is either the claimant or the defending party, in pertinent part, as follows:

Rule 56. Summary Judgment

(a) For Claimant. A party seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory judgment may, at any time after the expiration of 20 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party's favor upon all or any part thereof.

(b) For Defending Party. A party against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is asserted or a declaratory judgment is sought may, at any time, move with or without supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in the party's favor as to all or any part thereof.

(c) Motions and Proceedings Thereon.... The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(b) & (c) (emphasis added); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,...

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