American Seating Co. v. Kustom Seating Unlimited

American Seating Co. v. Kustom Seating Unlimited
Decided: Feb 4, 2010

FACTS: American Seating and Kustom Seating make and sell seats for use on public transportation systems. Seat insert made by Kustom fits into American Seating’s frame thereby allowing a replacement for the American Seating VR50 insert. The Kustom seat insert and the American insert are similar structurally, upholstered in a particular fabric from the same vendor, but use different adhesive, American is stronger.

QUESTIONS PRESENTED: What is meant by the ‘931 patent stating “high strength adhesive” is to create “a bond strength sufficient to resist peeling of the fabric from the substrate.” Whether the construction of “vandal resistant insert” must be settled to determine infringement. Whether summary judgment is appropriate for Kustom in regard to noninfringement of the patent claim due to the adhesive bond being less than what the claim entails.

REASONING: The court evaluated both parties adaptation of the patent language as it applied to adhesive strength and it determined that Kustom based their proposal on quantifiable data versus American’s standard that hinged on subjective evaluation. The court determined that the “vandal resistant inset” language is present nowhere in the patent other than the preambles and therefore is not of issue. The court found, with American’s own admission, that Kustom’s seat insert is very easy to peel. This admission and finding clearly place the seat outside the limitation of the “high strength adhesive” interpretation that the court adopted for the ‘791 patent.

HOLDING: Based upon the court’s construction of “high strength adhesive” and “bond strength sufficient to resist peeling of the fabric from the substrate,” Kustom is entitled to judgment as a matter of law and the summary judgment claim is not needed.

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