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The determination of patent infringement is a two-step process. First, the meaning of the claims in issue must be determined by a study of all relevant patent documents. Secondly, the claims must be read on the accused structures. In doing this, it is of little value that they read literally on the structures. What is crucial is that the structures must do the same work, in substantially the same way, and accomplish substantially the same result to constitute infringement.
Plaintiff Autogiro Company of America, owner of fifteen patents in suit relating to rotor structures and control systems on rotary wing aircraft, sued to recover reasonable and entire compensation for the alleged unauthorized use by defendant of plaintiff's patented inventions defined in certain selected claims of the patents. The accused devices were various structures, mechanisms and systems on helicopters purchased by the United States from five manufacturers. The trial commissioner found that 15 of the patents in the suit and 85 of plaintiff's claims in the suit were valid and infringed by various government structures. Defendant then excepted to the findings concerning the 15 patents.
Under the circumstances, was the plaintiff entitled to recover reasonable and entire compensation for the alleged unauthorized use by defendant of plaintiff's patented inventions?
Upon review, the court found claims of 11 patents valid and infringed. For eight of the patents and their claims, defendant excepted to the trial commissioner's findings, but submitted no briefs in support of those exceptions, which resulted in the court's adoption of the trial commissioner's findings of fact on those patents. All claims found infringed by the trial commissioner were also found valid. The court further concluded as a matter of law that plaintiff was the lawful owner of all claims found valid and infringed, and was entitled to recover reasonable and entire compensation for the unauthorized use of those claims. Judgment was entered to that effect, with the determination of the amount of recovery reserved for further proceedings before the trial commissioner.