Snooki's Homework due 4/4/11

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Honeywell v. Hamilton Sundstrand

  • Defense of Hamilton Sundstrand

Before stating the defense in this case it is important to recognize the state of the court’s opinion on the doctrine of equivalents. Through previous cases the court has established that the doctrine of equivalents can be used to show infringement if a substantially similar creation achieves a substantially similar result using a substantially similar means. Additionally, the court established that in order to use the doctrine of equivalents effectively and fairly, the claims of a patent should be reviewed individually when compared with another creation. It is also important to note that Honeywell is responsible for the full disclosure of their invention in such a way that one with ordinary skill in the art could recreate the invention.

In Honeywell v. Hamilton Sundstrand there were two major issues which needed to be defended on behalf of Hamilton Sundstrand. The question is whether or not Hamilton’s invention was infringing Honeywell’s patents for compressor bleed air control apparatus. The alleged infringement of ‘194 and ‘893 was for foreseeability. Patent ‘194 claimed a compressor which powered devices using variable air flow. Patent ‘893 claimed a system which provided a minimum flow rate as well as the electronics for that system. Hamilton Sundstrand did not infringe either patent through the foreseeability correlation.

When addressing infringement due to foreseeability it should be noted that it requires any changes to be unforeseeable to one of ordinary skill at that time. Because of the vagueness of this requirement as well as the difficulty one has in judging the state of technology at a future date, the patentee can take liberties using this criteria. This criterion helps to protect the patentee and helps to make patents more appealing for an inventor. However, by supporting the patentee so strongly it takes away much of the freedom from the public. Additionally, the foreseeability requirement should not apply here because expert testimony has helped to detail that at the time of Honeywell’s invention, the items would have been obvious to a person in the art.

The prior art contained the key parts which the Sundstrand invention utilized. Given the expert testimony as well as the devices presented as prior art from the 1970s it is clear that the items of the Sundstrand invention would have been foreseeable to someone of ordinary skill in the art at the time Honeywell filed its patents. Honeywell could have used IGV positioning in 1982. Because of this, Honeywell should have needed to draft claims in a way to contain the elements for the level of protection they desired.

Honeywell stated that the Sundstrand invention was equivalent because it uses substantially similar results to achieve a substantially similar end. However, the devices do not achieve these similar ends in a substantially similar way and thus the doctrine of equivalents should not imply infringement. The Sundstrand devices uses aspects and parameters (IGV Positioning, temperature, etc.) not present in the Honeywell device at all to achieve its goal. Additionally, Honeywell surrendered their right to monopolize the use of the IGV positioning by failing to include it in the original claims. The technology had been in use and known at the time of invention and thus could have been included. Honeywell’s claimed ignorance is irrelevant when considering the object of the case.

The device was foreseeable and therefore, it was Honeywell’s responsibility to draft their claims in an adequate manner. Due to prior art as well as expert testimony it is clear an ordinary person could have foreseen the invention and thus Sundstrand should be cleared of all charges of infringement.