Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
The objective indicia of nonobviousness, when present, are invariably relevant to an obviousness determination. These objective indicia may often be the most probative and cogent evidence of nonobviousness in the record.
In 1986, plaintiff Gambro Lundia AB (Gambro) was issued the ‘552 patent for its invention which used valves to direct clean dialysate around the dialyzer to recalibrate the sensors during dialysis. The invention would recalibrate sensors during hemodialysis to accurately measure the impurities removed from a patient's blood. In 1987, defendant Baxter Healthcare Corporation (Baxter) began marketing the Baxter SPS 550, a device it developed to address the inaccuracy of its dialysis equipment. In 1992, plaintiff filed suit against defendant, claiming that the Baxter SPS 550 infringed the ‘552 patent. In defense, defendant asserted the invalidity and unenforceability of the ‘552 patent. After a ten-day bench trial on the issues of infringement, validity, and unenforceability, the district court held claim 1 of the Gambro ‘552 patent invalid for obviousness and derivation, and unenforceable for inequitable conduct. The district court also entered judgment in favor of defendant on infringement, contributory infringement, inducing infringement, and willful infringement due to the invalidity and unenforceability of the '552 patent. Further, the district court declined to award either party attorney fees or costs.
Was the plaintiff’s patent invalid for obviousness and derivation, and unenforceable for inequitable conduct?
The court reversed the judgment. It reversed the trial court's ruling of invalidity based on derivation, because the trial court erred in finding communication and conception. The court found that the record supplied objective evidence of nonobviousness, including recognition of the importance of the invention, evidence of commercial success, and evidence of the failure of others to solve the recognized problem. The court concluded that this evidence, combined with lack of a teaching or suggestion to combine, required a holding of nonobviousness. It held that the determination of inequitable conduct was an abuse of discretion, because the evidence did not suffice to show the necessary measure of intent to deceive. The court declined to address the issues of whether the case was exceptional or whether the trial court abused its discretion by failing to award costs, because it found that the corporation infringed the patent.