Leapfrog Enterprises v. Fisher-Price Inc.

Leapfrog Enterprises v. Fisher-Price Inc.
U.S. Court of Appeals – Federal Circuit
Decided: May 9, 2007

FACTS: Leapfrog Enterprises brought suit for infringement of the ‘861 patent by Fisher-Price’s PowerTouch product, a device that helped children read phonetically. The language of the patent described a device that allowed the “selection of a depicted letter … to generate a signal corresponding to a sound associated with the selected letter.” In addition, the patented device is an electronic product that Fisher-Price states is an obvious furtherance of the prior art based upon claim 25 of the ‘861 patent.

HISTORY: US District Court for the District of Delaware entered judgment of noninfringement and invalidity and the patent holder, Leapfrog Enterprises appealed.

QUESTIONS PRESENTED: Whether Fisher-Price infringed on Leapfrog Enterprises ‘861 patent in regard to the selection of a “depicted letter” to generate a sound associated with the selection of the depicted letter and whether the subject matter of claim 25 of the ‘861 patent was an obvious combination of Bevan, the SSR, and the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art.

REASONING: The Court of Appeals determined that the Fisher-Price product does not allow for the selection of individual letters for phonetic pronunciation like the Leapfrog Enterprises device described in claim 25 of the ‘861 patent. The PowerTouch produced the phonetic pronunciation the of the word, no matter which letter was pressed. The Court of Appeals court agreed that claim 25 of the ‘861 patent expressly used the terms regarding the phonetic sounds attributed to each individual letter. In addition, the court found that the adaptation of electronic components is merely an obvious step from the mechanical components used in Bevin. Furthermore, the court determined that one with ordinary skill in the art would have had the knowledge to combine the SSR and Bevin.

HOLDING: The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s ruling that Fisher-Price’s PowerTouch did not infringe on claim 25 of the ‘861 patent and that the claim made there is invalid due to obviousness.

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