Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Southco, Inc. v. Fivetech Technology Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 19, 2013

SOUTHCO, INC.
v.
FIVETECH TECHNOLOGY INC.

MEMORANDUM

MARY A. McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Southco, Inc. ("Southco"), is a manufacturer of hardware, including "panel" or "captive" screws. The defendant, Fivetech Technology Inc. ("Fivetech"), is a competitor of Southco. Southco has alleged patent and trademark infringement by Fivetech. Before the Court is Fivetech's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the 012 patent (Docket Nos. 207, 210). The Court will grant the motion.

I. Procedural History

Southco is a manufacturer of hardware, including panel screws. Panel screws are also known as "captive screws" or "fastener screws." Compl. ¶¶ 6-7. Fivetech, is a competitor of Southco. Answer ¶¶ 2, 7. Southco alleges that Fivetech has infringed on its patents and trademarks through the sale of Fivetech Series 46 captive fasteners ("Series 46 screws").

More specifically, Southco alleges infringement on its patent number 5, 851, 095 ("the 095 patent") issued on December 22, 1998; on its patent number 6, 280, 131 ("the 131 patent") issued on August 28, 2001; on its patent number 6, 468, 012 ("the 012 patent") issued on October 22, 2002; and on its Trademark registrations numbers 2, 478, 685 and 3, 678, 153. Compl. ¶¶ 11-15 (095 patent), 20-23 (131 patent), 28-31 (012 patent), 36-44 (trademark).

The Court granted summary judgment in favor of Fivetech on both the 095 and 131 patent claims. (Docket Nos. 186, 195). The Court now considers Fivetech's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the 012 patent (Docket Nos. 207, 210).

II. Summary Judgment Record

A captive screw, or captive fastener, is a device that holds a screw in place while the screw is used to connect two panels. A cylindrical ferrule holds the screw, and a knob can be placed over the screw head. Def. Br. at 4-6. The question at issue in this motion is the scope of the claims language of Southco's 012 patent for captive screws.

The Southco 012 patent contains fourteen claims, four of which are independent. All of the fourteen claims are alleged to be infringed. Whether the allegedly infringing screws contain an annular chamfer is in dispute in claims 2-5 and 7-14. Whether the Series 46 screws have material from the fastener's knob fill the annular chamfer is at issue in claims 2-5, 11, and 12. Whether the screws have a plurality of protrusions that function to rigidly secure the screw head to the knob is disputed in claims 1, 6, 8-10, and 14.

The language of the claims, with emphasis added to the disputed portions, is:

A captive screw attachable to a panel, for attaching the panel to a surface, the surface having a threaded hole, the captive screw comprising:
a) a screw having a head portion and a shaft having at least a threaded portion, said head portion having an outer perimeter and a plurality of protrusions provided on said outer perimeter of said head portion;
b) a knob having an inner surface, wherein said protrusions rigidly secure said head portion to said inner surface of said knob; and
c) a ferrule having a first end and a second end through which said shaft extends, said ferrule having a panel attachment means at said first end to secure the captive screw to the panel.

U.S. Patent No. 6, 468, 012 col.6 ll.14-28 (filed Jul. 24, 2001) (claim 1).

The captive screw according to claim 1, wherein said head portion has a top surface and a flat, annular bottom surface, said head portion further has an annular chamfer[1] peripheral to said annular bottom surface of said head portion, and material from said knob fills said chamfer.

Id. col.6 ll.29-33 (claim 2).

Claim 3 is at issue because of it references claim 2:

The captive screw according to claim 2, wherein said knob has a top annular surface against which said head portion of said screw sits.

Id. col.6 ll.34-36 (claim 3).

A captive screw attachable to a panel, for attaching the panel to a surface, the surface having a threaded hole, the captive screw comprising:
a) a screw having a head portion and a shaft having at least a threaded portion, said head portion having a top surface and a flat, annular bottom surface, said head portion further having an annular chamfer peripheral to said annular bottom surface of said head portion;
b) a knob secured to said head portion, wherein material from said knob fills said chamfer; and
c) a ferrule having a first end and a second end through which said shaft extends, said ferrule having a panel attachment means at said first end to secure the captive screw to the panel.

Id. col.6 ll.37-50 (claim 4).

Similarly, claim 5 is at issue because of its reference to claim 4:

The captive screw according to claim 4, wherein said knob has a top annular surface against which said head ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.