H.H. Robertson, Co. v. United Steel Deck, Inc. (901422128)

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Read for 4/27/11

  • Decided by the CAFC in 1987
  • USD appealed the injunction of the DC in favor of Robertson
    • CAFC affirms
  • Robertson owns patent for "Bottomless Sub-Assembly for Producing an Underfloor Electrical Cable Trench"
    • Moved for preliminary injunction based on reasonable probability of success of infringement proceedings
  • In determination of preliminary injunction all burdens that would apply at a trial still hold
  • USD argued invalidity based on obviousness
    • A previous infringer had used the same prior art to attempt to prove invalidity and had failed
  • Agree that Robertson proved a reasonable likelihood of a finding of validity in the future
  • USD argues against the DC's construction of the term "bottomless"
    • CAFC uses the same construction
  • Find no error in the DC's analysis of the infringing device which concluded that the key portion of the tench remains bottomless - as stipulated by the patent
  • CAFC again agrees there is a reasonable probability of finding for Robertson on the infringement issue
  • Must also prove lack of an adequate remedy at law or other irreparable harm
    • Nature of patents lend to irreparability
  • In this case the equities weigh heavily against USD


  • Relief is authorized by statute
    • To prevent the violation of any right secured by patent
  • Within authority of trial court
  • Third Circuit Standard - an applicant for preliminary injunction must show"
    • Reasonable probability of eventual success
    • Irreparable injury if relief is not granted
    • Secondary
      • Harm to other parties of interest
      • Public interest
  • Have to weigh the magnitude of the threatened injury to the patent holder with the injury to the accused if the preliminary decision is wrong