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Izzo Golf, Inc. v. Taylor Made Golf Co.

July 16, 2008

IZZO GOLF, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
TAYLOR MADE GOLF COMPANY, INC., D/B/A TAYLOR MADE-ADIDAS GOLF COMPANY, DEFENDANT.
TAYLOR MADE GOLF COMPANY, INC., D/B/A TAYLOR MADE-ADIDAS GOLF COMPANY, COUNTER-CLAIMANT,
v.
IZZO GOLF, INC., COUNTER-DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Izzo Golf, Inc., ("Izzo") brings this action pursuant to federal patent law, (codified at 35 U.S.C. § 100 et. seq.), claiming that defendant Taylor Made Golf Company Inc., ("Taylor Made") has infringed Izzo's United States Patent No. 5,042,704 (filed March 23, 1990)(hereinafter "the '704 patent"), by manufacturing and selling golf bags with straps for carrying the bags that infringe upon the '704 patent. The '704 patent, entitled "Dual Strap Carrying System for Golf Bags" generally discloses a strap designed to evenly distribute the weight of a golf bag across both shoulders of the person carrying the bag. The strap system can also be used to carry a golf bag across only one shoulder. Taylor Made now moves for summary judgment against the plaintiff on the issue of the validity of the '704 patent. Specifically, defendant contends that Claims 8, 11 and 14 of the '704 patent are anticipated by prior art, and that Claims 1, 2, 8, 11, and 14 are rendered obvious by prior art. For the reasons set forth below, I deny defendant's motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

The '704 Patent is the subject of several actions before this court. In Izzo Golf, Inc. v. King Par Golf, Inc., 02-CV-6012, this court had occasion to describe, in general terms, the nature of the '704 Patent. As I stated in that case:

United States Patent 5,042,704 discloses a dual strap carrying system for golf bags. The crux of the invention is the utilization of two straps to carry the bag across both shoulders, rather than the use of a single strap (as traditionally found on golf bags) to carry the bag over a single shoulder. By carrying the bag across both shoulders instead of one, the weight of the bag is more evenly distributed across the entire back of the person carrying the bag, and the person carrying the bag experiences less strain and muscle fatigue which typically occurs when the entire weight of the bag is imbalanced, and borne by only one shoulder.

Izzo Golf, Inc. v. King Par Golf, Inc., 02-CV-6012 at p. 2-3 (July 5, 2007)(hereinafter the July 5, 2007 Decision and Order)

I further stated that:

Although the strap disclosed in the '704 Patent is designed to be used for carrying a bag over both shoulders, a feature of the invention is that because of its design, it can also be utilized to carry the bag over a single shoulder if the user prefers to carry his or her bags in the more traditional method. '704 Patent at col. 2, lns. 43-45. Another important feature of the strap is that because of its design, it can be retro-fitted to work with existing, traditional golf bags. '704 Patent at col. 2, lns. 32-36.

July 5, 2007 Decision and Order at p. 3.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all genuinely disputed facts must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Scott v. Harris, U.S. , ; 127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776 (2007) . If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgment is appropriate. Scott, U.S. at ; 127 S.Ct. at 1776 (citing Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-587 (1986).

B. Standards for determining Anticipation and Obviousness

Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 102, claims of a patent may be determined to be invalid it the invention or inventions disclosed in the claims are anticipated by prior art. A claim is "anticipated" if a single prior art reference "discloses each and every limitation of the claimed invention." Schering Corp v. Geneva Pharm., Inc., 339 F.3d 1373, 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

In accordance with patentability requirements set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 103, a patent claim may be determined invalid if it is found to be "obvious" in light of prior art. A claim is obvious if the patented invention would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the subject matter of the patent pertains, at the time the invention was disclosed. KSR International Co. V. Teleflex Inc., U.S. , ; 127 S.Ct. 1727, 1734 (2007)(citing 35 U.S.C. § 103). See also Glaxo Group Ltd. v. Apotex, Inc., 268 F.Supp.2d 1013, 1031 (N.D. Ill. 2003)("patent claim is invalid for obviousness where the differences between the subject matter patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made")

Whether or not a claim is anticipated by prior art is a question of fact. Eaton Corp. v. Rockwell International Corp., 323 F.3d 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Whether or not a claim is obvious in light of prior art is a legal conclusion, but one which is premised on factual findings. Beckson Marine v NFM Inc., 292 F.3d 718 (Fed. Cir. 2002); Miles Laboratories, Inc. v. Shandon Inc., 997 F.2d 870 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Although the determination of whether or not a claim is anticipated or obvious requires factual determinations, those issues may nevertheless be resolved on a motion for summary judgment where there are no material facts in dispute. See Key Pharmaceuticals v. Hercon Laboratories Corp., 161 F.3d 709, 714 (Fed. Cir. 1998)(claims of anticipation amenable to summary judgment where there are no material issues of fact in dispute); Sibia Neurosciences, Inc. v. Cadus Pharm. Corp., 225 F.3d 1349, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2000)(granting summary judgment on issues of obviousness).

While a patent may ultimately be declared invalid by a court of law, there is a legal presumption that a patent issued by the Patent Office is valid. Ruiz v. A.B. Chance Co., 234 F.3d 654, 662 (Fed. Cir. 2000). To overcome the presumption of validity, the party seeking to invalidate a patent must present clear and convincing evidence that the ...


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