CCS Fitness, Inc. v. Brunswick Corporation (JWB)

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The Case

  • CCS Fitness (Plaintiff-Appellant), Brunswick (Defendant, Appellee)
  • US District Court of Colorado held that CCS Fitness’ patent on a single-component straight bar was not infringed by Life Fitness (division of Brunswick) with its multi-component curved bar


  • elliptical trainer, reciprocating members are the bars that connect the foot pedal to the moving circle
  • nowhere in CCS’ three patents does it describe the shape of the reciprocating members or whether it consists of a single-component structure only
  • the drawings show a single-component straight bar, but description doesn’t specify
  • district court maintained that if CCS Fitness wanted to claim a device whose reciprocating member included a curved, multi-component structure, its patents should have included an illustration that showed these embodiments


  • CCS Fitness appeals, arguing again that the ordinary meaning of the term “reciprocating member” – whether defined by an ordinary or a technical dictionary – covers a curved structure consisting of one or more component
  • Life Fitness counters that the specification and the drawings can limit the scope of the claimed reciprocating members, since “member” is a vague term whose scope requires clarification from the specification and drawings


  • (1) must determine the scope and meaning of claim, (2) must compare claim to accused device to see if device includes limitations (literally or equivalents) of claimed invention
  • we hold that the claim term “reciprocating member,” as used in the asserted patents, encompasses the multi-component, curved structure used by the accused exercise machines
    • the term “member” denotes a beam-like structure that is “a single unit in a larger whole.” It is not limited to a straight-bar structure comprising a single component only.
    • Life Fitness cannot rebut the presumption that “reciprocating member” is not restricted by § 112 ¶ 6 and thus covers more than the single-component, straight-bar structures (and their equivalents) shown in the patents' drawings
  • Even though Life Fitness’ device moved the reciprocating members in a elliptical (rather than a perfect circle), the court did not identify any claim language that related to the perfect circle
  • We reverse the district court's determination on summary judgment of no literal infringement, since that judgment rested on an incorrect construction of the claim term “reciprocating member.”
  • We remand for additional proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Class Notes

  • reciprocating member connects to moving circle
  • Claim 9 of CCS Fitness Patent – discusses reciprocating members, never specifying single-component or straight – despite the figure showing a single straight member
  • Issue of defining claim “member”
  • Words in claim should always take on standard meaning unless they are specified elsewhere in application
    • Figure just shows “preferred embodiment”, not the only thing covered by the patent