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FINISH ENGG. CO. v. ZERPA INDUS.

June 27, 1985

FINISH ENGINEERING COMPANY, INC.
v.
ZERPA INDUSTRIES, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 This is an action under the patent laws of the United States and under the Declaratory Judgment Act seeking a declaratory judgment on the invalidity of a patent issued to defendant and a preliminary and permanent injunction against the enforcement of the patent against an alleged infringement by the plaintiff. The patent involved is Patent No. 4,457,805, "Solvent Recovery Apparatus and Method" issued on the application of the Inventor Pastor, and assigned to the defendant Zerpa Industries, Inc. The patent was applied for on April 22, 1983 and during the pendency of the patent application the defendant notified plaintiff that it was infringing on the claims of the Pastor patent. Plaintiff filed a protest before the Patent Office but the patent was issued on July 3, 1984. This action was filed on the date the patent was issued.

 Plaintiff has filed a motion for partial summary judgment addressed to Claims 1 through 7 and Claim 14 of the Pastor patent. Plaintiff's motion asserts that the subject matter of the Pastor patent would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. ยง 103 of the Patent Law.

 The Pastor invention is described in the patent as follows:

 
[57]
 
ABSTRACT
 
Apparatus and method for recovering clean solvent from a mixture of solvent and contaminants. The apparatus included an open top tank mounted in a housing below a sink in which articles to be cleaned with solvent are to be placed. The sink has a tap through which solvent is directed so that the articles can be cleaned by hand in the sink itself. A disposable, plastic bag is receivable in the tank and the tank is closed by a cover. Contaminated solvent can flow from the sink, through the cover and in to the bag in the tank. Contaminated solvent in the bag is heated by heating a liquid surrounding the side wall of the tank and below the bottom of the tank so that the solvent in the bag will vaporize. A tube leading out of the tank carries solvent vapor into a heat exchanger where the vapor is condensed to form clean, liquid solvent, and the liquid solvent is collected in a reservoir. A pump is coupled to the reservoir for pumping liquid solvent to the tap at the sink. The bag can be disposed of after the solvent has been vaporized therefrom.

 The claims of the patent in issue here are set forth in the patent as follows (Column 4):

 
What is claimed is:
 
1. In a solvent recovery apparatus having means for providing a distilling mode and means for providing an emptying mode, the improvement comprising:
 
a tank;
 
means for heating the interior of said tank;
 
a plastic bag; and
 
means for mounting said plastic bag within said interior, said means for mounting being designed, positioned and dimensioned for forming a substantially liquid-tight barrier between contaminated solvent within said plastic bag and said means for heating during said distilling mode, and for enabling easy removal and disposal of said plastic bag when containing a substantial quantify ...

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