ALJ Bullock Grants Summary Determination of Noninfringement In Certain Wiper Blades (337-TA-816)

On October 25, 2012, ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued the public version of Order No. 52 (dated October 2, 2012) in Certain Wiper Blades (Inv. No. 337-TA-816).  In the Order, ALJ Bullock granted Respondents Danyang UPC Auto Parts Co., Ltd., Pylon Manufacturing Corp., and Scan Top Enterprise Co., Ltd.’s (collectively, “the Pylon Respondents”) motion for summary determination of noninfringement of all asserted claims in a subset of the patents at issue in this investigation (the “Bosch Wiper Blade Patents”).

By way of background, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by Robert Bosch LLC (“Bosch”) alleging violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain “flat” or “beam-type” wiper blade devices that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,523,218, 6,553,607, 6,611,988, 6,675,434, 6,836,926, 6,944,905, 6,973,698, 7,293,321, and 7,523,520.  See our October 27, 2011 post for more details.

According to the Order, the Pylon Respondents asserted that the term “support element,” which appears in each of the claims of the Bosch Wiper Blade Patents, had been construed as a “component of the wiper blade that helps to uniformly distribute force on a windshield and does so without a support bracket design.”  However, the Pylon Respondents’ argued that their blades incorporate two support brackets, and thus, do not infringe the Bosch Wiper Blade Patents.  The Pylon Respondents also asserted that Bosch “conceded” that their bladed include brackets.  The Commission Investigative Staff supported the Pylon Respondents’ motion, asserting that the accused blades “clearly include a support bracket,” or at least a structure that is “physically and structurally identical to brackets.”

Bosch opposed the motion, arguing that the support bracket of the Pylon Respondents’ blades does not “help to uniformly distribute force on a windshield” and that there is a genuine issue of material fact “as to whether the small structures in the [blades] were disclaimed in the Bosch Wiper Blade Patents,” particularly as they are not conventional bracket structures.

ALJ Bullock determined that it is “undisputed” that each of the asserted claims of the Bosch Wiper Blade Patents includes “support element” or “supporting element” and that this component functions without a support bracket design.  Thus, if the Pylon Respondents’ blades included a support bracket, there can be no literal infringement.  The ALJ carried out a physical examination of the blades and found them to contain support brackets.  ALJ Bullock noted that the claim construction did not limit support brackets to “conventional” support brackets, and therefore, the Pylon Respondents do not literally infringe the asserted claims of the Bosch Wiper Blade Patents either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.

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