Kessler Doctrine : CAFC Alert

No Claim Preclusion. No Issue Preclusion. No Problem. The Kessler Doctrine Fills the Gap.

Andrew Melick | March 26, 2014

Brain Life, LLC v. Elekta Inc.

March 24, 2014

Before O’Malley, Bryson, Wallach.  Opinion by O’Malley

 

Summary:

In a prior case, Medical Instrumentation Diagnostics Corporation (MIDCO) brought a patent infringement suit against Elekta asserting the apparatus claims and the method claims of US Patent No. 5,398,684 (“the ‘684 patent”). The method claims were later dropped from the suit “without prejudice.” MIDCO ended up losing the infringement action. Brain Life, the successor-in-interest of the ‘684 patent, brought a suit against Elekta alleging infringement of the method claims of the same patent against the same products except for one additional product.

The CAFC held that claim preclusion did not bar the suit with regard to alleged acts of infringement occurring after the judgment in the first suit brought by MIDCO. The CAFC also held that issue preclusion did not bar the suit with regard to the method claims because the method claims were not “actually litigated.” However, under the “Kessler Doctrine,” Elekta has a right to use the products held not to be infringing the ‘684 patent in the first action freely and without harassment. Thus, the CAFC affirmed the District Court’s determination that the suit is barred with regard to the products involved in the first action, albeit, on different grounds from the District Court. The CAFC vacated the District Court’s decision and remanded the case with regard to the product that was not previously litigated in the MIDCO case.


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