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

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 28, 2013

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

MEMORANDUM

WILLIAM W. CALDWELL, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Presently before the court are the following motions for partial summary judgment. First, Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendants Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and Kimberly Clark Global Sales, LLC (collectively, "KC") seek summary judgment that the Suzuki reference is not prior art and therefore cannot invalidate the Rajala Patents[1] (see Doc. 634). Second, Defendants and Counterclaim Plaintiffs First Quality Baby Products, LLC, First Quality Products, Inc., First Quality Retail Services, LLC, and First Quality Hygienic, Inc. (collectively, "FQ") seek summary judgment of non-infringement of all asserted claims of the Rajala Patents[2] (see Doc. 756).

KC and FQ have each filed briefs opposing the other's motions, and supporting their own motions, and the motions are now ripe for our review. We consider these two motions simultaneously because, as FQ has noted (see Doc. 710), a favorable ruling on its motion could render KC's motion moot. For the reasons that follow, we will deny both motions.

II. Background

In February 2009, FQ filed a complaint in this court for a declaratory judgment, but we dismissed FQ's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Prior to our dismissal, however, KC filed this patent infringement action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and this action was then transferred from Texas to this court. Among other claims in this action, KC seeks damages for infringement of the Rajala Patents. FQ denies infringement and claims that the patents are invalid because Suzuki is prior art.

FQ previously moved for summary judgment of non-infringement of the Rajala Patents (Doc. 414), but we denied this motion, finding genuine issues of material fact as to whether FQ's products at issue have elastic across the crotch or a substantially equivalent feature (see Doc. 569). We also denied a cross-motion filed by KC (Doc. 450) on the same basis. FQ now renews its motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the Rajala Patents. In a separate motion, also pending before us, KC seeks summary judgment that the Suzuki reference is not prior art invalidating the Rajala Patents.

III. 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 nonmovant's evidence and draw "all justifiable inferences" in its favor. Id.

FQ's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement requires us to analyze KC's patent infringement claim. There are two steps to patent infringement analysis. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc. , 52 F.3d 967, 976 (Fed. Cir. 1995). The first step is to determine the meaning and scope of the patent claims at issue. See id. Although we have already completed this step, FQ's motion invites us to revisit our claim construction. 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).

KC's motion for summary judgment requires us to analyze FQ's claim that Suzuki is prior art invalidating the Rajala Patents. In order to establish that a patent is invalid as a result of prior art, the party challenging the patent must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged invalidating reference is prior art. Mahurkar v. CR Bard, Inc. , 79 F.3d 1572, 1576 (Fed. Cir. 1996). If the alleged prior art was published earlier than the filing date of the patent at issue, then the patent may be held invalid under 35 U.S.C. ยง 102(a), unless the patent owner can prove that the patent was reduced to practice[3] on an earlier date. Id. at 1576-77.

IV. Discussion

We will first address FQ's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the Rajala Patents, because a ruling in FQ's favor on this motion could render KC's motion moot. After ruling on FQ's motion, we will either analyze the merits of KC's motion for summary judgment that Suzuki is ...


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