The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODY
On September 27th, 1994, Plaintiff Rolite ("Rolite") brought a declaratory judgment action against Defendant Wheelabrator Environmental Systems Inc. ("WESI"), seeking to show non-infringement of WESI's patent and requesting injunctive relief.
On November 21, 1994, WESI filed a counterclaim on grounds of patent infringement.
On January 4th, 1995, Rolite filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the patent infringement issue. Rolite's motion is now under consideration, and for the following reasons, summary judgment
will be granted.
Both parties are involved in municipal waste management and operate systems for the conversion and recycling of ash residue from waste incinerators. The systems have various similarities: both systems screen ash residue waste, then combine the screened particles with stabilizing agents, such as concrete, to form aggregate which is then used for a variety of projects.
At issue in this matter is WESI's patent, United States Patent No. 4,804,147 ("the patent"), which requires "comminuting the ash residue to create an average particle size and a particle size distribution approximating that which is desired for the final aggregate". The parties disagree whether the patent applies to Rolite's process, and the central issue in this debate is whether the Rolite process "comminutes".
A. Standard for Summary Judgment
In order to succeed on its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Rolite must show that there are no outstanding issues of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). For purposes of the summary judgment motion, Rolite admits practicing all steps of the patent except the "comminuting" step.
Therefore, the burden is on Rolite to demonstrate that there are no outstanding issues of material fact with regard to comminution.
If Rolite meets its evidentiary burden, then WESI must counter it by showing that there is enough material evidence to create an outstanding factual dispute which cannot be resolved by summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986). WESI bears the burden of setting forth enough evidence which, if taken as true, establishes infringement by a preponderance of the evidence.
B. Standard for Resolving Patent Disputes
In order to resolve claims of patent infringement, a court must first, as a matter of law, define all terms in the patent claim that are under dispute. Once claim interpretation is settled, the factfinder must then carefully scrutinize the accused device, in order to determine whether infringement has indeed occurred according to the established definitions. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1995), cert. granted, 116 S. Ct. 40, ...