Inline Plastics Corp. v. Lacerta Group, Inc. (18-cv-11631).

  • December 10, 2019

Judge Hillman issued a claim construction order in this litigation involving tamper-resistant plastic food containers. The patents specifically describe the incorporation of a non-replaceable strip that must be severed before the cover could be removed from the container. In addition to construing seven different terms from the asserted patents, Judge Hillman addressed Lacerta 2019s assertions of indefiniteness involving several terms of degree, including 201cat least in part, 201d 201crelatively inaccessible, 201d and 201ctamper evident bridge. 201d Noting that such terms are not indefinite where the specification provides sufficient certainty to one of skill in the art, when read in the context of the invention, to identify the metes and bounds of the claim. He rejected Lacerta 2019s argument that 201cat least in part 201d was indefinite for failing to identify what else in addition to the 201cat least 201d components could form the relevant structure, noting that in such a circumstance, the claim would cover any structure incorporating the specified components. Judge Hillman rejected Lacerta 2019s argument that 201crelatively inaccessible 201d should be deemed indefinite because the Canadian Patent Office had so found in a related prosecution, noting both that the decision of the Canadian office is not binding on a U.S. court and that he disagreed with the Canadian decision because the specification identified the structures used to render the subject component inaccessible. Finally, he rejected Lacerta 2019s argument that 201ctamper evident bridge 201d was indefinite because it had no antecedent basis and was added during prosecution. Judge Hillman found that the claim itself provided sufficient detail to be definite, despite its not having been a part of the original claim language.

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