RFID Tracker Ltd. v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

RFID Tracker, Ltd. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 18547

Facts: The ‘563 patent issued to RFID on November 22, 2005 describes an inventory control system that uses radio frequency identification devices to track stock. Stock items are labeled with special tags that relay information to a radio frequency generator or “interrogator/reader.” The interrogator/reader then relays the tag information to a computer which can then track the presence or absence of stock. Wal-Mart, Gillette and Target implemented similar devices; however, their systems included a transmitting device.

Procedural History: On August 16, 2006, RFID filed suit against Wal-Mart, Gillette and Target for infringement of RFID’s ‘563 patent in District Court. On February 11, 2008, the court entered a claim construction order regarding the two claims at issue in the case. The court found that the meaning of “interrogator/reader” did not include a device containing a transmitter, and so on March 19, 2008, the court granted summary judgment to dismiss the case. RFID appealed to the Federal Circuit.

Issues: (1) Did the District Court err in finding that interrogator/reader does not include a transmitting device? (2) Did the court incorrectly grant summary judgment?

Holdings: (1)No, the court did not err, and so (2) no, it did not incorrectly grant summary judgment.

Analysis: The court found that the doctrine of prosecution disclaimer applies to this case. RFID’s claim language was ambiguous as to what an “interrogator/reader” actually entailed. The Federal Circuit looked to the prosecution history to determine claim scope. Upon examining the prosecution history, the court found that to avoid a finding of obviousness during prosecution, RFID had made clear statements that its device did not contain a transmitter, but that it only received transmitted information. Upon this finding, the court determined that the claim was not so broad as to include devices that have transmitters. Thus, devices used by the appellees did not infringe.

Future Importance: This case is a good example of a patentee attempting to broaden the scope of his patent to include things that weren’t claimed. From a policy perspective, the reasoning in this case is important because it protects prior users of an invention from suddenly becoming infringers.

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Page last modified on Saturday 12 of December, 2009 01:58:56 GMT by smcdani3.

Attached files

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123 Mas v. Perry.doc Mas v. Perry ruffner101 Sun 20 of Dec, 2009 03:08 GMT 24.50 Kb 1120
122 Exxon v. Allapattah.doc Exxon v. Al ruffner101 Sun 20 of Dec, 2009 03:07 GMT 27.00 Kb 1034
121 Carnival v. Shute.doc carnival v. Shute ruffner101 Sun 20 of Dec, 2009 03:07 GMT 25.00 Kb 1058
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