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Carpenter Technology Corp v. Allegheny Technologies Inc.

August 18, 2011

CARPENTER TECHNOLOGY CORP., PLAINTIFF
v.
ALLEGHENY TECHNOLOGIES INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Allegheny Technologies Inc. and ATI Properties, Inc. have filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the Lanham Act unfair competition claim asserted by Carpenter Technology Corporation. I will grant the motion for partial summary judgment because Carpenter has failed to satisfy multiple elements for a claim of false advertising under the Lanham Act.

I.BACKGROUND

Carpenter is a manufacturer and distributor of specialty alloy ingots for the energy, defense, automotive, and medical industries. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 4; Carpenter‟s Resp. Defs‟ Statement of Material Facts ¶ 4 (Carpenter S.M.F.). ATI also produces and sells specialty alloys for the aerospace and energy industries. Both parties manufacture and sell ingots composed of nickel based superalloys, including the 706 Alloy and the 718 Alloy. Carpenter S.M.F. ¶¶ 2-3, 5-6.

ATI‟s motion for partial summary judgment involves two ATI patents: the "564 patent, issued on July 9, 2002, and the "858 patent, issued on April 13, 2004.*fn1 ATI Appx. Ex. 1 "564 Patent; ATI Appx. Ex. 2 "858 Patent; Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9. The patents claim large-diameter ingots of nickel based superalloys. These ingots are manufactured into rotating parts for power generation, and are used primarily in land-based turbines. ATI Appx. Ex. 1 "564 Patent; ATI Appx. Ex. 2 "858 Patent.

On November 13 and 14, 2003, ATI sent letters to Carpenter, General Electric Power Systems, Aubert & Duval, S.A., and Special Metals Corporation. Appx. to ATI Mem. In Supp. Of Mot. for Partial Summ. J. (ATI. Appx.), Exs. 48, 49, 50, and 51. GE and Aubert were customers or potential customers of Carpenter and ATI; Special Metals was a competitor. Reber Dep., 75:5-8, July 27, 2010, ATI Ex. 34; Christiansen Dep., 109:23-110:17, Oct. 6, 2009, ATI Ex. 52. The letters ATI sent to Carpenter, Special Metals, and Aubert stated:

It has come to our attention that companies involved in the manufacture of ingots, forgings, or gas turbines may be considering either the manufacture, use, or sale of products using large diameter triple-melted 718 nickel alloy ingots greater than 30 inches in diameter, including up to 36 inches in diameter.

You should be aware that Allegheny Technologies Incorporated owns U.S. Patent 6,416,564 and related pending patent applications covering the manufacture, use, and sale of such large diameter nickel-base alloy ingots. ATI Allvac developed the patented invention, and the patents are assigned to ATI Properties, Inc.; [sic] both are Allegheny Technologies companies. Enclosed is a copy of U.S. Patent 6,416,564 for your ready reference.

Allegheny Technologies is proud of its technical achievements and values its intellectual property rights. Our policy is to respect the valid patent rights of others, as we expect others to respect our patent rights. . . .

ATI Appx. Exs 48, 50, 51. The letter to GE is similar in form to the above letter but references prior discussions between GE and ATI in which GE questioned the patent‟s validity. ATI Appx. Ex. 49.

After the "564 patent was issued to ATI on July 9, 2002, Carpenter entered into indemnification agreements with its customers. ATI‟s Statement of Material Facts ¶ 11 (ATI S.M.F.). After receiving ATI‟s November 13, 2003 letter, Carpenter continued to manufacture and sell large-diameter 718 ingots-the subject matter covered by the patents. Carpenter S.M.F. ¶ 14. Carpenter‟s indemnification agreements with its customers contemplated probable patent infringement litigation by ATI. ATI Appx. Ex. 58. Carpenter agreed to indemnify the product purchasers, i.e. forgers of the ingots such as Aubert, for any future patent infringement action brought by ATI against the forgers. Reber Dep. 18:6-24; Widge Dep., 86:20-87:10, Sept. 3, 2009, ATI Ex. 6. Separate arrangements also called for GE to indemnify Carpenter for specified ingots. Widge Dep. 86:20-87:10. Following the issuance of ATI‟s letters on November 13 and 14, 2003, GE decided not to offer indemnification on ingots greater than 30 inches in diameter-the subject matter covered by the patents. Id. Despite the absence of indemnity agreements, Carpenter sold ingots to GE in 2004 and 2005. Production ceased and no more sales occurred beginning in 2006. Christiansen Dep. 45:8-47:24; ATI Appx. Ex. 30, Supplemental Expert Report of Beutel at Supplemental Attachment 5b; ATI S.M.F. ¶ 19.

II.STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). In moving for summary judgment, a party must support its position that material facts are not in dispute by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only) . . . [or] showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c).

The court must view the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). The court must decide whether a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the plaintiff on the evidence presented. Id. at 252. Production by the non-moving party of more than a "mere scintilla" of evidence demonstrating a genuine issue of material fact means the court may not credit the moving party‟s version of events against the opponent, even if the quantity of the moving party‟s evidence far outweighs that of its ...


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