NY Patent Decisions Blog

Judge Engelmayer Makes a “Curtain Call”

That is, Judge Engelmayer makes a call on the meaning of certain shower curtain claims.  On August 9, 2018, United States District Judge Paul Engelmayer (S.D.N.Y.) issued a decision construing 14 claim terms across three patents directed to shower curtains. 

Judge Engelmayer noted that neither party submitted expert testimony analyzing the disputed terms and proceeded to construe the claims "from the familiar perspective of a lay judge."    Judge Engelmayer first construed the term “ring,” noting that, while the common specification of the asserted patents states that rings could be "any non-circular shape," the “rings” of the claims contained "circumferences."    Thus, Judge Engelmayer construed "ring" as requiring "a piece of material that is curved at least in part and that generally encloses and reinforces an opening." 

With the construction of "ring" decided, the Court turned to the meaning of the “inner circumference" and "outer circumference" of the recited rings.  Judge Engelmayer concluded that the specification clearly contemplates circumferences tracing non-circular shapes.  Moreover,  Judge Engelmayer found that there was no “clear and unmistakable” disavowal during prosecution, because exchanges with the examiner—a restriction requirement to claims that included only circular shapes and the characterizing of later added claims as being "drawn to a nonelected species"—did not limit these terms to circular shapes.

Judge Engelmayer also rejected Defendants' contention that the term "approximately horizontal component" was indefinite, noting that Defendants failed to offer expert testimony supporting their contention, and that the Federal Circuit has previously found similar terms definite.

With respect to the term "projecting edge," the Court refused to import a limitation advanced by Defendants, noting that one Defendant took a contrary position during inter partes reexamination.

Case: Focus Prods. Grp. Int'l, LLC v. Kartri Sales Co., Inc., 15-cv-10154(PAE), Dkt. No. 198 (S.D.N.Y. August 9, 2018). The asserted patents include U.S. Patent Nos. 6,494,248; 7,296,609; and 8,235,088.