TurboCare v. General Elec. Co. (901422128)

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Read for 4/11/11

Reading Notes

  • Decided by the CAFC in 2001
  • TurboCare owns a patent for a shaft sealing system for fluid turbines
    • Two-position labyrinth-type seal to resolve the rubbing damage problem
  • District Court granted summary judgment of noninfringement
    • CAFC affirms for claim 2 and affirms/vacate claims 1,5,6 and 7
  • Device uses springs to control how much space is between the ring segments based on air flow and pressure
    • GE's apply a radial force while TurboCare's are circumferential but they work the same
  • Claim 2 invalid for lack of written description
    • It did not clarify what was already disclosed but added new matter
  • District Court granted no literal infringement and no doctrine because Turbo distinguished his from prior art based on differences his now had with GE's
  • Claims 2 is unsupported by claim 1 because of the type of spring and the location
    • Issue of fact as to whether the amendment added new matter - no summary judgment
  • Added disclose was no inherent according to below standard
  • Affirm claim 2 is invalid for failure to meet written description requirement
  • Means-plus-function format is not present here so S112P6 is not applicable
  • GE claims Turbo disclaimed all embodiments using flat springs in the prosecution history
    • CAFC decided that his claims did include flat springs so this is not true
  • Have to be careful not to read a limitation from the preferred embodiment into the language of the claims
    • Especially when another claim restricts the invention as the court's narrow construction
  • Have to analyze all four infringing devices
    • Two do not infringe because of the location of the drilled holes which were disclaimed in prosecution
    • Other two do not literally infringe claim 1
  • 1992 Diaphragm Version
    • GE claims it does not meet the small clearance position limitation
  • GE claims doctrine is invalid because of estoppel
    • Claim was narrowed in amendment so no range of equivalents is available
      • CAFC determines nothing was actually narrowed
  • Remand with regard to the 1992 Diaphragm Version and the 1995 Version devices

New Matter

  • New matter requirement serves to ensure the patent applicant was in full possession of the claimed subject matter on the application of the filing date
    • Any added claims must find support in the original specifications
  • For a disclosure to be inherent the missing descriptive matter must be present in the original application's specifications such that one skilled in the art would recognize such a disclosure