WilliamWesterman : CAFC Alert

Disavowal of Claim Terms is a Stringent Hurdle to Overcome, which must be “Clear and Unmistakable” Disavowal to Limit the Scope of Claims

William Westerman | August 14, 2013

Plantronics, Inc. v. Aliph, inc. and Aliphcom, Inc.

July 31, 2013

Panel:  Rader, O’Malley and Wallach.  Opinion by Wallach.


This is a patent infringement suit by Plantronics against Aliph.  Plantronics is owner of US Patent 5,712,453 (‘453 patent) entitled, “Concha Headset Stabilizer.”  This is a concha-type headset to anchor in a user’s ear for use in a telephone receiver.

The district court granted-in-part summary judgment for Aliph, for noninfringement and invalidity.  After appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed-in-part, vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings.  More specifically, the Federal Circuit reversed the summary judgment of noninfringement and invalidity.  The discussion below will focus on the issue of noninfringement.

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Summary Judgment improperly granted in trade secret misappropriation case

William Westerman | September 7, 2012

Raytheon Company v. Indigo Systems Corp. and FLIR Systems, Inc.

August 1, 2012

Panel:  Linn, Dyk and O’Malley.  Opinion by Linn.


Raytheon sues Indigo for misappropriation of trade secrets in selling an infrared imaging camera to a general contractor on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.  The district court grants Indigo’s motion for summary judgment that the statute of limitations (3 years) had lapsed.  Former employees of Raytheon started up Indigo to produce infrared imaging cameras. The district court impermissibly drew inferences against the non-moving party (Raytheon) in granting the summary judgment motion.  Further, the summary judgment motion should not have been granted because Texas and California law state that the discovery rule for the statute of limitations is a question of fact and not of law.

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CAFC reviews and applies the doctrine of claim construction

William Westerman | February 11, 2012

Thorner v.  Sony    

February 1,  2012

Panel:  Rader, Moore, Aiken.  Opinion by Moore.


            The CAFC reverses a determination by the district court that there was no infringement because a limitation was improperly imported into the claim.  Because the district court improperly limited the term “attached to said pad” to mean attachment only to an external surface and erred in its construction of the term “flexible”, the CAFC vacated and remanded.

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