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General Electric Co. v. ITC

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 07-06-2012
Case #: 2010-1223
Newman, Rader, Linn
Full Text Opinion: http://www.finnegan.com/files/Publication/4b8f1429-00a6-47e1-8664-c1de08c6e1ef/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/e6695a75-36f8-4005-9891-c4153cd206ab/10-1223%207-6-12.pdf

Patents: Tariff Act of 1930, ยง 337, protects domestic industry by prohibiting imports that infringe on U.S. patents.

Opinion (Newman): General Electric (GE) appealed the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) holding that Mitsubishi did not violate the Tariff Act of 1930, § 337, by infringing GE’s U.S. Patents #221 and #985 relating to wind turbine circuitry. GE’s #221 patent describes a protective circuit similar to Mitsubishi’s circuit in the method of circuit break initiation, but different in the method of triggering circuit restoration (GE’s was triggered by a predetermined current value; Mitsubishi’s was triggered by a predetermined time value). GE claimed a broad construction of the “predetermined value” language in the #221 patent to include values of current and time. The Court held a narrow construction of “predetermined value” based on 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 2. Therefore, Mitsubishi did not violate the #221 patent because its circuit was distinct in function. GE’s #985 patent was construed by the ITC to require structural separation of circuitry, ironically excluding GE’s turbines from its own #985 patent and holding no domestic industry existed. The Court held there was nothing in the #985 language to support ITC’s narrow construction; rather, the circuit is only required to be functionally separate (i.e. accomplished via wire separation in the same housing). Court AFFIRMED Mitsubishi did not violate § 337 because #221 was not infringed. Court REVERSED the non-existence of a domestic industry with the #985 patent and REMANDED to ITC for review of #985 infringement and § 337 violation.