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Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc v. First Quality Baby Products

January 31, 2012

KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
FIRST QUALITY BABY PRODUCTS, LLC, FIRST QUALITY PRODUCTS, INC., FIRST QUALITY RETAIL SERVICES, LLC, FIRST QUALITY HYGIENIC, INC., DEFENDANTS AND COUNTERCLAIM PLAINTIFFS
v.
KIMBERLY-CLARK CORPORATION, KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC., KIMBERLY-CLARK GLOBAL SALES, LLC, COUNTERCLAIM DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Presently before the court are a motion for partial summary judgment

(Doc. 414) filed by defendants First Quality Baby Products, LLC, First Quality Products, Inc., First Quality Retail Services, LLC, and First Quality Hygienic, Inc. (collectively "FQ"), and a cross-motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. 450) filed by plaintiff Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc. ("KC").

FQ seeks summary judgment of non-infringement on all of the asserted claims of the Rajala Patents,*fn1 as well as claim 1 of the Ungpiyakul Patent. KC opposes this motion with a cross-motion, wherein it seeks summary judgment that FQ's products at issue have a section of elastic "across the crotch"-a feature required by the relevant claims of the Rajala Patents. KC also argues that the court should deny FQ's motion.

After careful consideration, we will deny the motions.

II. Legal Standard

Rule 56(a) provides that summary judgment should be granted "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). We will examine the motion under the well-established standard. See, e.g., Meditz v. City of Newark, 658 F.3d 364, 369 (3d. Cir. 2011). "Once the moving party points to evidence demonstrating no issue of material fact exists, the non-moving party has the duty to set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists and that a reasonable factfinder could rule in its favor." Id. (quoting Azur v. Chase Bank, USA, Nat'l Ass'n, 601 F.3d 212, 216 (3d Cir. 2010)). The court must credit the non-movant's evidence and draw "all justifiable inferences" in its favor. Id.

The instant case requires us to analyze a patent infringement claim. There are two steps to this analysis. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1995). We have already completed the first step, which is to determine the meaning and scope of the patent claims at issue. See id. The second step requires us to compare the properly construed claims to the device accused of infringing the patent. Id. Infringement is found if the accused device is proven, by a preponderance of the evidence, to meet each element of the patent claim, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Seal-Flex, Inc. v. Athletic Track & Court Constr., 172 F.3d 836, 842 (Fed. Cir. 1999).

III. Discussion

A. Rajala Patents

Each of the relevant claims of the Rajala Patents requires that the product have a section of elastic "across the crotch." FQ contends that no reasonable jury could find that its products at issue have elastic "across the crotch" or a substantially equivalent feature, and therefore, the court should enter summary judgment of non-infringement in FQ's favor. KC brings a cross-motion for summary judgment, wherein it argues that KC, not FQ, is entitled to summary judgment, because there can be no dispute that FQ's products do indeed have a section of elastic "across the crotch."

The parties do not dispute the actual structure of FQ's products at issue. Their dispute concerns whether a certain section of elastic is or is not properly characterized as extending "across the crotch." FQ states that its products have a gap with no elastic at all-for example, a size large product has a gap measuring approximately 2 inches across the crotch. KC observes that, in our order clarifying the claim construction, we found that "an elastic can be located 'across the crotch' regardless of whether it has been cut or severed." (Doc. 344). KC invokes this language to argue that this section of elastic is "across the crotch," although it has been cut or severed, leaving a gap between the severed ends.

We will reject KC's motion for summary judgment, because we do not agree that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the existence of a section of elastic "across the crotch" in FQ's products. We reaffirm our prior holding that a cut or severed piece of elastic can extend "across the crotch" of a garment; however, we are not persuaded that the section of elastic at issue here necessarily does so. This elastic is not only cut, but significantly, it is cut with an appreciable gap in the area of the ...


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