In Golden Blount, Inc., v. Robert H. Peterson Co., No. 03-1298 (Fed. Cir. April 19, 2004), the federal circuit vacated a finding of infringement (based on the district court's failure to provide findings of fact as required by Rule 52(a)), affirmed the judgment that Golden Blount's '159 patent was not invalid, and held the issue of inequitable conduct was waived.
The '159 patent relates to fireplace burners and associated equipment, particularly a gas-fired, artificial logs and coals-burner assembly. Appealing the judgment that its fireplace burner assembly infringed the '159 patent, Peterson argued the that the construction of the terms "raised level" and "away from the fireplace opening" was erroneous. The federal circuit disagreed, stating the district court properly interpreted the claim terms. However, the court was unable to compare the accused device to the properly construed claims because there were no findings of fact or analysis supporting the district court's conclusion:
[i]n the absence of any findings, this court cannot determine whether the trial court had any evidence to support its conclusions, nor is this court able to determine whether the district court applied appropriate legal standards.
The federal circuit affirmed the determination that the '159 patent was not invalid, based on the complete lack of clear and convincing evidence that the claims would have been obvious.
Dissenting-in-part, Judge Newman believed the case was ripe for decision on the infringement issue because Peterson (1) did not challenge the infringement findings to the district court post-trial, (2) did not challenge the infringement analysis on appeal; and (3) only challenged the claim construction -- urging that under its proposed construction, it would not infringe. Accordingly, a remand for more findings was unwarranted.
To view the full decision visit http://www.aplf.org/mailer/Issue213.doc
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