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

United States Court of Appeals

Federal Circuit

Patentee brough action for infringement of patent claiming method of hair removal using laser. The United States District Court granted summary judgement of patent invalidity and the patentee appealed. Prior publications under review include an instruction manual for a laser used to remove tattoos and an article documenting study of tissue damage induced by laser pulses on epilated backs of guinea pigs. The manual did not satisfy the anticipation requirements because it did not include the limitation of aligning laser over a hair follicle opening. This particularly alignment was also not inherent in manual's disclosure. Conversely, it was determined that the prior art article did anticipate the patent for hair removal, as it showed the natural result of aligning the laser directly over the hair follicle. The anticipation requirement is satisfied even though the test subjects were guinea pigs and the goal of hair depilation was not explicitly discussed. In conclusion, the Court of Appeals held that 1) patent was not anticipated by instruction manual for laser used to remove tattoos, but 2) patent was anticipated by prior art article.