Summary: CAFC rules on claim construction and vacates summary judgment of noninfringement.

Case: Frans Nooren Afdichtingssystemen B.V. v. Stopaq Amcorr Inc., No. 2013-1200 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 21, 2014) (precedential). On appeal from S.D. Tex. Before Rader,Taranto, and Chen.

Procedural Posture: Plaintiff, patentee, appealed the district court’s summary judgment of non-infringement. The CAFC held that the district court made errors in at least one claim construction underlying the judgment of non-infringement, vacated that judgment, and remanded for further proceedings.

  • Claim Construction: In the claims, directed to a preparation for insulating and protecting substrates, the district court erred in construing the term “a filler.” The district court did not articulate a construction for “a filler,” but limited the term to containing only one material. However, the CAFC stated that there was nothing in the customary meaning, specification, or prosecution history that excluded a filler made by combining two different materials. Instead, the CAFC held that, on the present state of the record, “a filler” should have the definition Defendant provided from The Condensed Chemical Dictionary, which appears to be uncontroverted by Plaintiff. The CAFC also enumerated additional claim construction problems that the district court should address.
  • Summary Judgment: The CAFC vacated the district court’s summary judgment of non-infringement because there was a dispute between the parties’ experts about “a filler,” and the district court did not assess that dispute under the proper construction of that term, making it an open question. And, the additional claim construction issues need to be addressed before assessing infringement.