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J.T. Eaton & Co. v. Atlantic Paste & Glue Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

February 11, 1997, DECIDED



 [***1641]   [*1564]  CLEVENGER, Circuit Judge.

Atlantic Paste & Glue Company (Atlantic) appeals the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York holding that J.T. Eaton & Company, Inc.'s (Eaton) patent for a mousetrap is not invalid and is infringed by Atlantic's accused mousetraps.

For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that the district court misinterpreted claim 1 of Eaton's patent. Consequently, we reverse the judgment that the patent is infringed, and we vacate the judgment [**2]  that the patent is not invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 103 (1994). The case is remanded to the district court for further proceedings with regard to the validity issue. [***1642]  

This suit involves United States Patent No. 4,438,584 (the '584 patent), issued on March 27, 1984, to Stanley Z. Baker and Benjamin H. Baker. The patent, assigned to Eaton, discloses a "Trap for Rats, Mice, and Other Vermin." Claim 1, the patent's only independent claim, reads, with emphasis added:

A commercial trap product for catching mice or rats comprised of a generally flat support formed of a non-porous, thin sheet material, said support having at least one positioning surface, at least one indented portion having a given depth below said positioning surface, and a relatively thick layer of pressure sensitive adhesive material contained within said indented portion having a thickness of at least 1/16 inch, a plastic flow temperature above 120 degrees F. and an upper surface; said indented portion having a greater depth than the thickness of said layer of adhesive and said positioning surface being spaced above said adhesive layer upper surface.

Claim 1 thus recites a dishlike container holding [**3]  a pressure sensitive adhesive material in which vermin become stuck, and thereby trapped. The commercial embodiments of the invention feature two plastic containers or traps, typically packaged together, one  [*1565]  on top of the other, face-to-face, capable of being hung in a vertical position at the point of sale.

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106 F.3d 1563 *; 1997 U.S. App. LEXIS 2237 **; 41 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1641 ***

J.T. EATON & COMPANY, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ATLANTIC PASTE & GLUE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History: As Corrected February 11, 1997.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Judge Amon.



adhesive, vertical, patent, tests, plastic, temperature, orientation, district court, prior art, infringement, trap, horizontal, exposed, products, shipping, invention, storage, reexamination, mousetrap, protocols, encountered, limitations, invalid, surface, declaration, measurement, competitor, stored, sales, proceedings

Patent Law, Claims & Specifications, Invention Theory, Defenses, Inequitable Conduct, General Overview, Infringement Actions, Burdens of Proof, Nonobviousness, Elements & Tests, Prior Art, Graham Test, Secondary Considerations, Evidence, Business & Corporate Compliance, Ownership, Conveyances, Licenses