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Demaco Corp. v. F. Von Langsdorff Licensing, Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

June 21, 1988, Decided

No. 86-1439

Opinion

 [***1223]  [*1388]   NEWMAN, Circuit Judge.

F. Von Langsdorff Bauverfahren GmbH and F. Von Langsdorff Licensing Ltd. (together "Langsdorff") appeal the judgment 1 in favor of declaratory judgment plaintiff Demaco Corporation and counterclaim defendants Coastal Contracting Corporation, Paver Systems, Inc., and R. I. Lampus Company (together "Demaco"). The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, held that claims 9, 13, and 29-33 of United States Patent No. 4,128,357 ("the Barth patent") are invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103, that all [**2]  of the claims are unenforceable for inequitable conduct, and  [*1389]  thus that the patent is not infringed. We reverse.

The Patented Invention 

The patent claims here at issue are for a paving stone of specific shape and proportion, as illustrated in claim 9, an agreed "typical" claim (as rewritten in independent form):

9. Ground covering slab elements for paving ground areas, each of said elements being a single piece of concrete consisting of a head portion and a stem portion meeting at a dummy groove allowing, but not necessitating, breakage of said slab elements into heads and stems along said dummy grooves and being delimited by two opposite sides that form angled traces about a longitudinal axis common to said head and said stem, each said angled trace being formed by a succession of sides comprising at said head an inclined side face inclined at [**3]  45 degrees in one direction relatively to said axis, a lateral side face extending lengthwise with respect to said axis, and another inclined side face inclined at 45 degrees in the opposite direction with respect to the said axis, and comprising at said stem a lateral side face extending lengthwise with respect to said axis, each said lateral face of said stem being complementary to a lateral face of said head, said end face of said head together with said inclined sides of said head and said lateral faces of said head and said dummy groove describing a centrally symmetrically [sic] octagon, said dummy groove together with said end face of said stem and said lateral faces of said stem being symmetrical about the center of said stem, and said head and said stem being mirror symmetrical about said longitudinal axis, wherein said end face of said head, said lateral faces of said head, said inclined sides of said head and said dummy groove together describe an octagon, with equal lengths of said end face, said lateral faces and said dummy groove, and with equal lengths of said inclined sides of said head, wherein said inclined sides of [***1224]  said head are each shorter than said end face of [**4]  said head.

Appellant Langsdorff describes the advantages of the Barth paving stone as combining the feature of structural strength obtained from an elongated, interlocking paver, with the feature whereby, however the asymmetric stone is laid, the effect is the same symmetrical pattern. These characteristics are illustrated in the brochure of one of the accused infringers, wherein the Barth stone is shown along with another commercial paving stone laid in the same patterns:

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851 F.2d 1387 *; 1988 U.S. App. LEXIS 8595 **; 7 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1222 ***

Demaco Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. F. Von Langsdorff Licensing Limited and F. Von Langsdorff Bauverfahren GmbH, Defendants-Appellants

Prior History:  [**1]   Appealed from U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Judge Castagna.

Disposition:  Reversed and Remanded.

CORE TERMS

patent, district court, prior art, invention, stone, paving stone, stem, references, paver, patented invention, copies, inequitable conduct, nexus, prima facie case, symmetrical, inclined, dummy, axis, appearance, patentee, octagon, groove, paving, lateral, objective evidence, nonobviousness, infringement, pavement, products, factors

Patent Law, Nonobviousness, Elements & Tests, General Overview, Prior Art, Jurisdiction & Review, Standards of Review, Graham Test, Secondary Considerations, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Utility Patents, Product Patents, Machines, Defenses, Inequitable Conduct, Torts, Business Torts, Civil Procedure, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Affirmative Defenses, Unclean Hands, Effect, Materiality & Scienter