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Judge Swain Finds a “Book” by Any Other Cover is Still Not a “Camera”

Pro se Plaintiff Chikezie Ottah (“Plaintiff”) sued fifteen automobile companies for patent infringement alleging that defendants’ car mounted cameras infringe U.S. Patent No. 7,152,840 (“the ’840 patent”) entitled “Book Holder.”  Five of the defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint for failure to state a claim and another five defendants moved for summary judgment of non-infringement.  On February 1, 2017, Judge Laura Taylor Swain (S.D.N.Y.) granted both motions. 

The ’840 patent has only one claim, which is directed to “[a] book holder for removable attachment” comprising, among other things: a clasp, a book support platform, an arm extending from the clasp to the book support platform and multiple clamps.  In opposing the two motions, Plaintiff argued that a camera can be the equivalent of a book and the screws and bolts holding a camera in place can be the equivalent of the claimed clasps.  Judge Swain disagreed.

In discussing the motion to dismiss, the Court observed that the meaning and scope of a claim literally directed to a “book holder” cannot be construed to cover any camera, let alone the defendants’ accused vehicle-mounted cameras.  Judge Swain found that plaintiff’s DOE arguments were “foreclosed by the language of the patent” and “legally implausible.”  Accordingly, Plaintiff’s pleadings amount to nothing more than “unsupported, conclusory assertions” and the motion to dismiss was granted for failure to state a claim.

The Court also found that the accused mounted cameras do not meet the “removable attachment” limitation of the ’840 patent because tools are required to remove the cameras.  According to Judge Swain, a screw used to hold the camera in place is not the equivalent of the claimed “clamp” because a camera is not “removable” when a screwdriver is needed in order to remove it. Further, Judge Swain gave the nonmoving defendants a bonus: a sua sponte dismissal “in the interests of justice.”

The case is Ottah v. BMW et al., No. 15 CV 02465-LTS, 2017 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 01, 2017).