A blog about patent, copyright and trademark law in the U.S. District Court
for the Southern District of New York

Court Rejects Patent Infringement and Unfair Competition Claims

In a December 9, 2013 ruling, Judge Richard J. Sullivan granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment of non-infringement in plaintiff Enzo Biochem, Inc.'s patent infringement action.  Enzo entered into a distribution agreement with PerkinElmer to manufacture and distribute Enzo's patented biotechnology inventions.  PerkinElmer appointed defendants Molecular Probes, Inc. and Orchid Biosciences, Inc. as sub-distributors.  In dismissing the patent infringement claims against Molecular Probes and Orchid Biosciences, the Court noted that "[b]ecause the features of the accused product are not in dispute, the Court may construe Claim 1 and then compare it to the undisputed features" of the accused product. 

Judge Sullivan rejected the defendants' argument that Enzo's proposed construction was limited solely by statements made to the PTO during prosecution of the patent-in-suit, and instead looked both to the language of the claim, and to the prosecution history.  The Court wrote that as "it turns out, though, the language of Claim 1 aligns with Enzo's statements to the PTO," and concluded that "[b]ased on the record before the Court, Enzo's statements to the PTO have not been wrenched from their context or mischaracterized; rather, they clearly set forth a difference -- evident on the face of Claim 1 -- between the accused features" of the challenged product.

Judge Sullivan also rejected Enzo's Lanham Act claim of unfair competition based essentially on the notion that defendants' passed off the concept of the accused products as their own.  Since PerkinElmer was the producer of the accused products (under Enzo's agreement with PerkinElmer), the Court ruled that "there is no evidence in the record that Enzo was the 'producer of the tangible product sold in the marketplace,' which is fatal to Enzo's Lanham Act claim."
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