United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
KENNETH D. BELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Zamp,
Inc.’s (“Zamp”) Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. No. 46). The Court has carefully reviewed the motion
and considered the parties’ briefs and
exhibits. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
will DENY Zamp’s motion because there
are genuine issues of material facts disputed between the
parties on Plaintiff Simpson Performance Products,
Inc.’s (“Simpson”) claims of patent
infringement against Zamp and/or Zamp is not entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on those claims. Accordingly,
this action should proceed towards a trial on the merits, if
there is no earlier resolution of this matter either between
the parties or by the Court.
judgment may only 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 factual dispute is considered 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 if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Vannoy v.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 827 F.3d 296, 300 (4th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Libertarian Party of Va. v.
Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013)).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact
through citations to the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, admissions or affidavits in the record.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986); Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). “The
burden on the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing’. . . an absence of evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 325. Once this initial burden is met, the burden
shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving 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 his pleadings to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 324.
ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the
evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Tolan v.
Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 657 (2014); see also
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “Summary judgment
cannot be granted merely because the court believes that the
movant will prevail if the action is tried on the
merits.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the
Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568–69 (4th Cir. 2015)
(quoting 10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller et
al., Federal Practice & Procedure § 2728 (3d
ed.1998)). “The court therefore cannot weigh the
evidence or make credibility determinations.”
Id. at 569 (citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v.
French (In re French), 499 F.3d 345, 352 (4th
end, the question posed by a summary judgment motion is
whether the evidence as applied to the governing legal rules
“is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.” Id. at 252.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
action Simpson accuses Zamp of infringing and inducing
infringement of nearly all of the nineteen claims of its U.S.
Patent No. 9, 351, 529 (the “‘529 Patent”
or the “Patent”), which relates to a system of
tethers and a helmet cooperating with the tethers for
controlling a driver's head during operation of a
vehicle. Specifically, Simpson alleges that Zamp’s head
and neck restraint products called the Zamp NT001003 Z-Tech
Series 1A and Series 4A (the “Accused Products”)
infringe the ‘529 Patent. The Court has previously held
a claim construction hearing and issued an Order construing
various claim terms and phrases in the Patent for which a
construction was requested. See Doc. No. 36 (the “Claim
Construction Order” or “CCO”). Zamp has not
requested that the Court reconsider the CCO, and the Court
finds no reason to do so at this time. Accordingly, the Court
will apply the constructions of the claims as described in
the CCO for the purpose of ruling on this motion.
background of the patented technology, the ‘529 Patent
and the Accused Devices is described in detail in the Claim
Construction Order and will not be repeated here. See Doc.
No. 36 at pp. 2-7. In summary, the ‘529 Patent relates
to “the field of safety devices worn by a driver when
operating a high performance vehicle.” ‘529
Patent, col. 1, lines 14-15. A). It describes a restraint
device that controls movement of a driver’s head, and
reduces forces applied to a driver’s neck and spine
when the driver is subjected to high acceleration and
vibration forces.” Id. at col. 1, lines 16-18.
restraint device disclosed in the ‘529 Patent has a
pair of side tethers for attachment to the helmet and a
support member, and at least one rear tether attached to the
support member and for attachment to the helmet. The rear
tether and one of the pair of side tethers are jointly
attached to the helmet at a single attachment point on each
side of the helmet. Id.
Accused Products are also head and neck restraints, but the
Series 1A and Series 4A products use a single piece of Kevlar
webbing to attach the support frame or harness to the
driver’s helmet. As described in the Declaration of
David Zampierin and as shown in the exhibits attached to
Defendant’s motion, on each side of the Accused
Products a portion of the webbing extends from the frame to a
helmet spring clip, and another portion of the webbing
extends from the helmet spring clip to a “T
buckle” coupled with the frame. Simpson alleges that
these sections of the single strap define the “rear
tether” and “side tethers” claimed in the
‘529 Patent, and Zamp disputes that contention as
discussed further below.
basis for Zamp’s motion is Zamp’s contention that
the Accused Products do not infringe any claim of the
‘529 Patent because the Accused Products “do not
include a rear tether and one of the pair of side tethers
jointly attached to a helmet.” Further, Zamp argues
that the Series 1A and Series 4A do not include “a rear
and side tether [that] attach at a first common attachment
location on the first side of the helmet and at a second
common attachment location on the second side of the helmet,
respectively.” Further, Zamp claims that because the
Accused Products include only a single strap of Kevlar
webbing, they do not have a rear tether and side tethers ...