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Composite Resources, Inc. v. Combat Medical Systems, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

April 12, 2018




         THIS MATTER is before the court on defendants' Joint Motion for Summary Judgment of Invalidity of Claims 15-16 of U.S. Patent No. 7, 842, 067 and Claim 9 of U.S. Patent No. 7, 892, 253. Having considered the defendants' motion and reviewed the pleadings, the court enters the following Order.

         I. Background

         Both U.S. Patent No. 7, 842, 067 (“the ‘067 Patent”) and U.S. Patent No. 7, 892, 253 (“the ‘253 Patent”) pertain to a tourniquet. The ‘067 Patent's invention is a tourniquet consisting of a pair of straps and a buckle that can be manipulated and tightened by a user (including a potential victim) with only one hand. The tourniquet also provides improved circulation stoppage through an inner tightening strap within a sleeve. The ‘253 Patent's invention is the same, except that it allows for modifications to the buckle, such as teeth and planar and elevation transition areas, that make it harder for the tourniquet to inadvertently loosen.

         a. The ‘067 Patent

         On November 30, 2010, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “PTO”) issued the '067 Patent, titled “Tourniquet and Method of Use, ” which names Mr. Mark Esposito as inventor. The patent describes a relatively small and lightweight tourniquet, comprised of a first elongated member including a buckle, and a second elongated member slidably connected to the first. In addition, a tensioning mechanism connected to the second member applies tension to create compressive force that restricts the flow of blood in the body part. The tensioning mechanism may be a windlass or a ratchet. The tourniquet is suited for emergency use, and may be applied, manipulated, and tightened by the wearer, even if the wearer is limited to one hand.

         b. The ‘253 Patent

         On February 22, 2011, the PTO issued the '253 Patent, also titled “Tourniquet and Method of Use, ” which also names Mr. Esposito as inventor, along with Mr. Jonathan Bennett. This patent is for another tourniquet that is nearly identical to the one described in the ‘067 Patent. However, this tourniquet modifies the buckle to include one or more of a raised intermediate bar and one or more teeth attached to the bar, in order to better prevent the outer sleeve from inadvertently loosening and disengaging from the buckle.

         c. The infringing product

         CRI alleges that defendants infringed these two patents by making, using, importing, offering for sale, and selling its “Tactical Mechanical Tourniquet” (“the TMT Product”). Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant Combat Medical Systems, LLC, the primary distributor of defendant Alphapointe, offers for sale and sells the TMT Product in this district and throughout the United States. CRI alleges that the TMT Product is a tourniquet that restricts the flow of blood in a body part, via looping around and circumferentially surrounding the body part and compressing it through a slidably engaged mechanism. In doing so, CRI argues that the TMT Product violates at least claim 15 of the ‘067 Patent and at least claim 9 of the ‘253 Patent. CRI further argues that such sales of the TMT Product by defendants has ongoing costs to CRI in loss of sales, loss of profits, loss of royalties, and other irreparable injuries. Defendants argue that they have not infringed on any valid patent claims, and in the instant motion seek a declaration of summary judgment on the invalidity of claims 15 and 16 of the ‘067 Patent and claim 9 of the ‘253 Patent.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is warranted “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). A factual dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material only if it may affect the suit's outcome under governing law. Id. The movant has the “initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party. That party “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 324. Instead, that party must present sufficient evidence from which “a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Sylvia Dev. Corp. v. Calvert Cnty., Md., 48 F.3d 810, 818 (4th Cir. 1995).

         The Court views evidence and any inferences from evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “‘Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.'” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009) (quoting Matsushita v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). The question posed by summary judgment is whether the evidence “is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         A patent may be held to be invalid due to lack of a written description. 35 U.S.C. § 112, 112, ¶ 1 provides that “[t]he specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention.” Invalidity due to failure to comply with the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 1 is a question of fact, and the court notes that patents are “presumed to be valid and overcoming this ...

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