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Jacob Krippelz, Sr. v. Ford Motor Company

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-27-2012
Case #: 2011-1103
Newman, Prost, and O'Malley
Full Text Opinion: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/11-1103.pdf

Patents: Conclusory expert testimony is not a substitute for actual prior art disclosure in an anticipation analysis.

Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) appealed from the judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which awarded $56 million to Jacob Krippelz, Sr. (“Krippelz”), as a result of Ford’s willful infringement of Krippelz’s U.S. Patent No. 5,017,903 (“’903 patent). During his infringement suit Krippelz requested reexamination, and the Patent and Trademark Office “subsequently confirmed the validity of all the ’903 patent’s claims over the submitted prior art.” After the district court issued summary judgment of infringement, during trial on validity and damages, Ford argued the patent was invalid as anticipated, or obvious in light of a French Patent issued to DuBois (“DuBois”). Partly based on expert testimony, the jury “found the ’903 patent valid over Dubois,” and awarded damages to Krippelz. Ford moved for judgment of invalidity as a matter of law, but the district court denied the motion. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held “the district court committed reversible error in denying JMOL of invalidity by anticipation over DuBois.” The Court repeated “teaching away is not relevant to anticipation analysis,” rather “it is only a component of an obviousness analysis.” Further, the opinions of experts “are not a substitute for the actual [prior art] disclosure.” Thus, the Court held Claim 2 of the Krippelz patent “invalid for anticipation by DuBois,” VACATED the judgment of infringement, and REMANDED for “judgment of non-liability for Ford.”