Law School Case Brief
Teashot.LLC v. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. - 595 F. App'x 983 (Fed. Cir. 2015)
Literal infringement requires that every limitation set forth in a patent claim must be found in an accused product, exactly.
Plaintiff claims that defendant infringed on its patent consisting of a sealed body constructed of a water-permeable material, which allows flow of a fluid through the sealed body, was properly construed to mean that water-permeable material was the means through which fluid could flow through the sealed body. The district court construed the claim element "sealed body is constructed of a water-permeable material which allows flow of a fluid through said sealed body to produce a tea extract from said tea composition" as "the portions of the sealed body into which fluid flows and out of which fluid flows are water-permeable material allowing flow of a fluid through said sealed body to produce a tea extract from said tea composition. The district court concluded that the defendant’s K-Cups did not literally infringe because the K-Cups do not have a "water-permeable material" for water to flow into the sealed bodies. The district court also found that Teashot "waived its right to raise the doctrine of equivalents by failing to timely disclose it as an infringement theory." The district court therefore entered summary judgment of non-infringement in favor of Green Mountain.
(a) Was there literal infringement of the patent? (b) Did defendant waive its right to raise the doctrine of equivalents?
(a) No; (b) Yes
(a) Literal infringement requires that every limitation set forth in a claim must be found in an accused product, exactly. There is no literal infringement since plaintiff admitted that defendant’s lid is not water impermeable, while plaintiff’s lid is water permeable. Teashot also does not dispute the following admission that the mere puncturing of the K-Cup lid fails to transform the material into a water-permeable material. Teashot contends that a factual dispute remains as to whether the K-Cup's lid, once punctured, becomes a "water-permeable material." Teashot cites no support in the record that a skilled artisan would consider "water-permeable material" to encompass material not permeable to water but having merely a puncture hole. Teashot's unsupported arguments—especially against its admissions quoted by Green Mountain—create a genuine factual dispute sufficient to survive summary judgment; (b) The district court then found that "[i]t is undisputed that Plaintiff did not include the doctrine of equivalents in its original infringement contentions, served on May 1, 2012, and again failed to include this theory in its March 7, 2013 supplement." Teashot's violation of the scheduling order is the basis for the district court's conclusion that "Plaintiff waived its right to raise the doctrine of equivalents by failing to timely disclose it as an infringement theory." Teashot's assertion on appeal that it "fully complied with the Scheduling Order" is not supported by any showing that it disclosed any doctrine of equivalents theory by the deadline in the scheduling order.
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