March 7, 2018

Stare Decisis: Previous Claim Constriction Prevented Finding of Infringement

By Bryan K. Wheelock, Principal

In Ottah v. Fiat Chrysler, [2017-1842] (March 7, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,152,840 on a book holder.

The Federal Circuit noted that it had previously reviewed claim construction of the ’840 Patent, and ruled that several claim limitations require that the claimed book holder has a “removable mounting.” This ruling on claim scope is a matter of “claim construction,” which is ultimately a question of law, and not subject to collateral review. The Federal Circuit said that no error has been shown in this claim construction, and no reason for departing from the rules of collateral estoppel or stare decisis as to this claim term.

The Federal Circuit discerned no error in the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement, for no reasonable fact finder could find that the accused cameras meet the “removably attached” limitation of claim 1. The Federal Circuit added that it had liberally construed the pleadings, but have concluded that the Second Amended Complaint’s accusation of infringement lacks plausibility. The district court correctly dismissed Ottah’s complaint with prejudice.