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Cont'l Can Co. v. Monsanto Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

November 13, 1991, Decided

No. 90-1328


 [***1747]  [*1265]   NEWMAN, Circuit Judge

Continental Can Company USA and Continental PET Technologies (collectively "Continental") appeal the partial summary judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, holding that United States Patent No. 4,108,324 (the Conobase or '324 [**2]  patent) is invalid. 1 Final judgment was entered on this issue, for the purpose of appeal.

Summary Judgment 

] An issue may be decided on motion for summary judgment when there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325-26, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation v. Genentech, Inc., 927 F.2d 1565, 1571, 18 U.S.P.Q.2d (BNA) 1001, 1005 (Fed. Cir. 1991). ] The movant's burden is to show that no fact material to the issue is in dispute, that even if all material factual inferences are drawn in favor of the non-movant the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id. ] Summary judgment is as available in patent cases [**3]  as in other areas of litigation. Chore-Time Equipment, Inc. v. Cumberland Corp., 713 F.2d 774, 778-79, 218 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 673, 675 (Fed. Cir. 1983) 

The purpose of the summary process is to avoid a clearly unnecessary trial, Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); it is not designed to substitute lawyers' advocacy for evidence, or affidavits for examination before the fact-finder, when there is a genuine issue for trial. As stated in Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 176, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970) (Black, J., concurring), "the right to confront, cross-examine and impeach adverse witnesses is one of the most fundamental rights sought to be preserved by the Seventh Amendment". See also Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 473, 7 L. Ed. 2d 458, 82 S. Ct. 486 (1962).

While facilitating the disposition of legally meritless suits, when summary judgment  [*1266]  is improvidently granted the effect is to prolong litigation and increase its burdens. This is of particular concern in patent disputes, where the patent property is a wasting asset, and justice is ill served by delay in final resolution.  [**4]  In the case at bar, although some issues could be resolved on the law and undisputed facts, other issues require trial.

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948 F.2d 1264 *; 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 26994 **; 20 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1746 ***


Subsequent History: Rehearing Denied December 26, 1991, Reported at: 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 29979.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio; Judge Spiegel.

Disposition: Reversed in Part, Vacated in Part, and Remanded.


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Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Genuine Disputes, General Overview, Materiality of Facts, Burdens of Proof, Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Anticipation & Novelty, Defenses, Inequitable Conduct, Nonobviousness, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Elements, Specifications, Enablement Requirement, Statutory Bars, On Sale Bar, Public Use Bar, Elements & Tests, Graham Test, Secondary Considerations