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United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
February 12, 1996, DECIDED
[***1686] [*1188] NEWMAN, Circuit Judge.
National Presto Industries and The West Bend Company each appeals from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, 1 concerning Presto's United States Patent No. 5,089,286 (the '286 patent) for a device that cuts vegetables into spiral curls.
[**2] The issues of patent validity and inducement to infringe were decided by summary judgment, and the issues of infringement, willfulness of infringement, and damages were tried to a jury. The district court enhanced the jury's damages award by one half, and denied Presto's request for attorney fees. On appeal by each side of the aspects that were decided adversely to it, we affirm the judgment in all respects.
On West Bend's motion for summary judgment on the issue of validity, the district court granted judgment in favor of Presto, holding that the '286 patent was not invalid. This summary judgment in favor of the non-moving party is challenged by West Bend, both as to the merits of the decision and with respect to the procedure.
The trial court has authority to dispose of issues summarily when the requirements of Rule 56 are met, provided that the adversely affected party has an adequate opportunity to respond and the summary procedure does not deny due and fair process. In Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 326, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986), the Court remarked that "district courts are widely acknowledged to possess the power to enter summary judgment sua sponte, so long [**3] as the losing party was on notice that she had to come forward with all of her evidence." See Sawyer v. United States, 831 F.2d 755, 759 (7th Cir. 1987) (the movant must have opportunity to respond to the non-movant's position before summary judgment may be granted in favor of the non-movant); Horn v. City of Chicago, 860 F.2d 700, 703-04 n.6 (7th Cir. 1988) (a sua sponte summary judgment should not be granted when it takes the affected party by surprise); Choudhry v. Jenkins, 559 F.2d 1085, 1088-89 (7th Cir. 1977). 2
[*1189] West Bend in its motion cited two Japanese publications that West Bend stated were closer prior art than the references cited by the patent examiner in granting the '286 patent. Presto in its opposition discussed the relevant prior art including [**4] the references that were cited by the examiner. The [***1687] parties did not dispute the facts of the scope and content of the prior art, the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art, and the level of ordinary skill in the field of the invention. West Bend's motion brought forth extensive materials and argument by both sides on the issue of validity, and West Bend had full opportunity to respond and did respond to Presto's position that the '286 patent was not invalid.
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76 F.3d 1185 *; 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 1940 **; 37 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1685 ***
NATIONAL PRESTO INDUSTRIES, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. THE WEST BEND COMPANY, Defendant/Cross-Appellant.
Prior History: [**1] Appealed from: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Judge Crabb.
infringement, patent, district court, inducement, issuance, equivalency, willful, summary judgment, argues, container, damages, terms, matter of law, vegetable, retention, enhanced, prior art, hypothetical, pre-issuance, invalidity, patentee, literal, attorney's fees, culpable, frame, jury verdict, open end, compartment, configured, reception
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