By Eric Schweibenz
On April 6, 2012, ALJ Theodore R. Essex issued Order No. 31 in Certain Protective Cases and Components Thereof  (Inv. No. 337-TA-780) denying Complainant Otter Products, LLC’s (“Otter”) motion for summary determination of infringement and denying Respondent Griffin Technology, Inc’s (“Griffin”) cross motion for summary determination of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,933,122 (the ‘122 patent).

By way of background, Otter filed its complaint in this investigation on May 25, 2011 alleging that Griffin (among others) unlawfully imported, sold for importation, and sold after importation certain protective cases and components thereof that infringe the ‘122 patent.  The Commission instituted this investigation on June 24, 2011.  See our June 27, 2011 post for more details.  ALJ Essex granted Otter’s motion for summary determination of no invalidity with respect to the ‘122 patent on March 12, 2012.  See our March 20, 2012 post for more details.

According to the Order, Otter argued that there are no disputed issues of material fact as to how the accused products meet all the limitations of claims 1, 5-7, 13, 15, 17, 19-21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30-32, 37, 38, 42 and 44 of the 122 patent.  Griffin responded that none of the accused products meet the “groove” limitation found in the asserted claims.  The Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) supported Otter’s motion in part, asserting that two of the accused products, the Griffin Survivor for the iPod Touch and the Griffin Survivor for the iPad 2, meet all the limitations of the asserted claims except for claims 15 and 23.  The OUII argued that Otter failed to show that the Griffin Survivor for the iPhone 4 and the Griffin Explorer for the iPhone 4 meet the “groove” limitation and thus, summary determination of infringement was inappropriate for those products.

ALJ Essex found that there is a factual dispute as to whether the accused products meet the “groove” limitation that prevented summary determination on infringement.  The ALJ noted that just because Otter presented expert testimony in support of its argument while Griffin did not does not mean that Otter’s testimony automatically results in a finding of infringement, particularly since the technology involved is “extremely simple” and expert testimony is not necessary to find that there is a disputed issue of fact as to whether the accused products infringe the asserted claims under any of the claim constructions proposed by the parties.  Further, ALJ Essex found that Griffin’s cross motion failed to comply with Ground Rules 3.2 and 3.5.  Accordingly, both motions were denied.