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Maxwell v. J. Baker, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

June 11, 1996, DECIDED

95-1292, 95-1293, 95-1355

Opinion

 [***1002]  [*1101]   LOURIE, Circuit Judge.

J. Baker, Inc. appeals from the final judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota in which the court denied J. Baker's motion for judgment as a matter of law after a jury verdict of infringement of claims 1, 2, and 3 of U.S. Patent 4,624,060, owned by the inventor, Susan M. Maxwell. Maxwell v. J. Baker, Inc., 875 F. Supp. 1371 (D. Minn. 1995). Because the court erred when it denied J. Baker's motion for [**2]  judgment as a matter of law on the issue of infringement, but did not err otherwise, we affirm-in-part, reverse-in-part, vacate-in-part, and remand.

BACKGROUND

In retail shoe stores, pairs of shoes must be kept together to prevent them from becoming disorganized and mismatched. Typically, manufacturers connect pairs of shoes using plastic filaments threaded through each shoe's eyelets. However, some shoes do not have eyelets and cannot be connected in this manner. Thus, manufacturers have resorted to other methods of keeping the shoes together such as making a hole in the side of each shoe and threading a filament through these holes. This method creates problems for retailers and manufacturers because the shoes are damaged by the process.

Maxwell, an employee at a Target retail store, recognized this problem and invented a system for connecting shoes that do not have eyelets. She secured tabs along the inside of each shoe and connected the shoes with a filament threaded through a loop or hole in each tab. By securing the tabs inside the shoe, she preserved the integrity and appearance of the shoes.

Maxwell filed a patent application entitled "System for Attaching Mated Pairs [**3]  of Shoes Together," which issued as the '060 patent on November 25, 1986. Figure 2 of the  [***1003]  patent illustrates the preferred embodiment of the invention and is shown below.

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86 F.3d 1098 *; 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 14143 **; 39 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1001 ***

SUSAN M. MAXWELL, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. J. BAKER, INC., Defendant-Appellant, and PRANGE WAY, INC., Defendant.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Counsel Amended. Rehearing Denied and In Banc Suggestion Declined August 28, 1996, Reported at: 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 23200. Certiorari Denied March 17, 1997, Reported at: 1997 U.S. LEXIS 1649.

Rehearing, en banc, denied by Maxwell v. J. Baker, Inc., 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 23200 (Fed. Cir., Aug. 28, 1996)

Writ of certiorari denied Maxwell v. J. Baker, Inc., 520 U.S. 1115, 137 L. Ed. 2d 327, 117 S. Ct. 1244, 1997 U.S. LEXIS 1649 (1997)

Related proceeding at Maxwell v. Angel-Etts, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22503 (C.D. Cal., May 15, 2000)

Prior History: Appealed from: United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (Minneapolis). Judge Doty.

Maxwell v. J. Baker, Inc., 875 F. Supp. 1371, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2338 (D. Minn., 1995)

Disposition: AFFIRMED-IN-PART, REVERSED-IN-PART, VACATED-IN-PART, and REMANDED

CORE TERMS

shoe, infringement, patent, tab, damages, royalty, marking, patentee, lining, fastening, pair of shoes, specification, inner, manufacturers, counter, inside, silicate, pocket, top, invention, upper, sock, outer, doctrine of equivalents, attachment, compensate, parties, substantial evidence, district court, matter of law

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, General Overview, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Claim Interpretation, Doctrine of Equivalents, Claims, Claim Language, Specifications, Description Requirement, US Patent & Trademark Office Proceedings, Reissue Proceedings, Claims & Specifications, Invention Theory, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Remedies, Damages, Abuse of Discretion, Jurisdiction & Review, Business & Corporate Compliance, Infringing Acts, Use, Patentholder Losses, Reasonable Royalties, Ownership, Conveyances, Measure of Damages, Licenses, Royalties, Defenses, Marking, Burdens of Proof