Mar. 23: Prior Description in Printed Publication SKH

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Mickowski v. Visi-Trak Corporation

36 F.Supp.2d 171 (1999)


  • "A prior art reference may serve as an anticipation of the patented invention even where the reference is silent about a particular characteristic of the invention, if extrinsic evidence establishes that the characteristic is inherent in the reference; however, the extrinsic evidence must clearly establish that the missing characteristic is necessarily present in the reference and that a person of ordinary skill in the art would recognize the characteristic as inherent in the reference."

Mickowski alleges that defendants infringed upon claim 1 of US Patent 4,504,920 relating to the technology for monitoring die casting or injection molding processes in which machine operators depend upon data from equipment sensors to alert them to product defects and to ensure uniformity. Visi-Trak manufactures a computer monitoring and analysis system for the die casting industry. The sales literature and software manual demonstrate how the system may be used to practice the monitoring methods taught by Mickowski's patent claims, in addition to others.

Visi-Trak claimed the patent as invalid because of an earlier similar system developed by Hewlett Packard. HP kept a lab notebook and a record of what was attempted and what was ultimately developed. No one at HP attempted to plot pressure as a function of position and pressure as a function of time for the same shot of a die casting machine, nor is there any evidence that anyone at HP attempted to perform a substantially simultaneous display of these plots and no one recognized the value of doing so. The defendants argue that the manual for this HP product shows all of the elements of the claim, but the court finds that the manual does not in any way suggest which parameters should be monitored or how to monitor them.

Thus, the subject matter of the claims was not known in the prior art and the HP systems was insufficient to place the subject matter in the possession of one of ordinary skill in the art.