Artmatic USA Cosmetics Inc. v. Maybelline Co. et al.

Artmatic USA Cosmetics Inc. v. Maybelline Co., et al.
1995 WL 151762

Artmatic USA Cosmetics and Arthur Matney have sued fifteen defendants for patent infringement of their blister packaging for cosmetics. Pavion Ltd., one of the defendants, moves for summary judgment. Blister packaging is a means of displaying a cosmetic compact by placing it on a piece of cardboard with a hardened plastic cover over it. This enables the customer to view the powder and its color directly while at the same time protecting the powder from direct exposure. This is done by encasing the bottom portion of the compact within the molded plastic in a manner that allows the top portion of the compact to open and close freely.

On June 24, 1994 the Court instructed the plaintiffs to specify which products were infringing on their patent. The plaintiffs indicated that Pavion’s Black Radiance compact was an infringing product.

Does Pavion’s Black Radiance compact infringe on the plaintiffs’ patent.

Patent infringement requires the determination of whether the claims of a patent “read on” the product accused of infringement. A patent may also be infringed upon if that patent is literally infringed upon or infringed upon under doctrine of equivalents. Literal infringement requires that all of the patents claims must be present in the infringing item. Doctrine of equivalents infringement provides that the item performs substantially the same overall function or work, in substantially the same way, to obtain substantially the same overall result.

The Black Radiance does not infringe on the plaintiffs’ patent and therefore summary judgment is granted.

The parties dispute whether Black Radiance contains all of the elements of the plaintiffs’ patent. The plaintiffs’ contend that all of the elements are present in the Black Radiance compact. However, the Court found that there is at least one element that is missing from the Black Radiance packaging. The court determined that the groove specified in claim 1 of the plaintiffs’ patent is missing from the Black Radiance packaging. The plaintiffs contend that the absent element is found in the two step portions of the Black Radiance package. The court determined that the groove defined in the patent and the “groove” in the Black Radiance packaging is not a groove by definition but an indentation. Even if the “groove” is considered a similar structure it doesn’t perform the same function as in the plaintiffs’ patent. The absence of the groove is sufficient to defeat the plaintiffs’ claim of literal infringement. As to the doctrine of equivalents it has been declared by the Federal Circuit to require an equivalent counterpart for each claim limitation. If one claim limitation is totally absent from the accused item there can be no infringement as a matter of law. London v. Carson Pirie Scott & Co., 946 F.2d at 1538 (Fed. Cir. 1991). The missing claim limitation of the groove also defeats the plaintiffs’ claim of infringement by doctrine of equivalents. Therefore, Pavion Ltd.'s Black Radiance package is found to not infringe upon the plaintiffs’ patent and defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

Portions © 2006-2019 by Michael Risch, Some Rights Reserved | Copyright Notice| Legal Disclaimer