By Eric Schweibenz
On March 8, 2011, the International Trade Commission issued a notice determining to reverse ALJ Carl C. Charneski’s August 5, 2010 Remand Initial Determination (“RID”) in Certain Connecting Devices (“Quick-Clamps”) for Use with Modular Compressed Air Conditioning Units, Including Filters, Regulators, and Lubricators (“FRL’s”) That Are Part of Larger Pneumatic Systems and the FRL Units They Connect (Inv. No. 337-TA-587).  According to the notice, the ITC terminated the investigation finding that the asserted claims are invalid as obvious.  Please note that Oblon Spivak represents Respondents SMC Corporation and SMC Corporation of America in this matter.

By way of background, the Complainant in this investigation is Norgren Inc. (“Norgren”).  ALJ Charneski issued an initial determination on February 13, 2008 in which he found no violation of Section 337.  Norgren petitioned for review, and the Commission rendered a final decision on April 14, 2008 adopting the ALJ’s initial determination.  Norgren appealed the Commission’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

On May 26, 2009, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in which it modified the Commission’s claim construction, reversed the Commission’s determination of non-infringement, vacated the Commission’s determination of nonobviousness, and remanded the case.  The Federal Circuit’s remand order contained instructions “to evaluate obviousness in the first instance based upon the correct construction of the claim term ‘generally rectangular ported flange’ -- i.e., a construction that does not require a flange having projections on all four sides.”  See our May 28, 2009 post for more details.  ALJ Charneski conducted a one-day evidentiary hearing on April 21, 2010.  On August 5, 2010, ALJ Charneski issued the RID determining that none of the asserted claims of the patent-in-suit were invalid as obvious.  See our August 13, 2010 and September 13, 2010 posts for more details.  On October 7, 2010, the Commission determined to review the RID on the issue of obviousness and requested further briefing.  See our October 11, 2010 post for more details.

According to the March 8 notice, “the Commission has determined to reverse the ALJ’s finding that the asserted claims of the ‘392 patent are nonobvious, find no violation of section 337 because the claims are invalid as obvious, and terminate the investigation with a finding of no violation.”