Cara's hw 3/23/2011

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MEHL/Biophile Intern. Corp. v. Milgraum (1999)

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

MEHL/Biophile International Corp. asserted that Dr. Sandy Milgraum infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,059,192, entitled "Method of Hair Depilation"

Milgraum filed a motion for summary judgment saying that the patent claims were anticipated by an instruction manual for the Spectrum RD-1200 laser and by a 1987 Journal of Investigative Dermatology article by Dr. Luigi Polla (Polla article). The distric court agreed that the manual anticipated the claims and granted summary judgement of invalidity.

United State Court of Appeals affirms the invalidity but disagrees that the manual discloses all the elements and instead affirms based on the Polla article. The patent was for a method of removing hair using a laser that specifically required, in its claims, alignment vertically over a hair follicle opening. The manual teaches the use of a laser to remove a tattoo but does not, explicitly or inherently, necessitate vertical alignment. The Polla article (although about guinea pigs, the difference is irrelevant) is about the irradiation of hair follicles and the resulting damage. This article inherently teaches the vertical alignment because viewed as a whole the natural result flowing from the operation would result in this alignment although it is not an explicit instruction.

Key takeaway: To anticipate a claim, a prior art reference must disclose every limitation of the claimed invention, either explicitly or inherently.