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Ottah v. Fiat Chrysler

Dismissal With Prejudice Warranted Where Claim Could Not Plausibly Reach Accused Devices

Ottah v. Fiat Chrysler, F.3d (Fed. Cir. Mar. 7, 2018) (NEWMAN, Hughes, Stoll) (S.D.N.Y.: Swain) (1 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms summary judgment of noninfringement as to some defendants, dismissal with prejudice as to others. Mr. Ottah’s patent claims recited a “book holder” for use in car seats, wheelchairs, etc. The district court did not err in granting summary judgment of noninfringement to certain automakers. In a previous case, Ottah v. VeriFone Sys., Inc., 534 F. App’x 627 (Fed. Cir. 2013), the Fed Cir had held that the Mr. Ottah’s claims required a book holder capable of being “removed without tools.” The district court correctly applied that construction, and it was undisputed that the movants’ accused mounts required tools for removal. The opinion also rejects Mr. Ottah’s attempt to cover fixed mounts via the doctrine of equivalents based on prosecution history estoppel. “Subject matter surrendered to acquire the patent cannot be recaptured by the doctrine of equivalents.” Op. at 9 (citing Duramed, 644 F.3d 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2011)).

The district court also did not err in dismissing Mr. Ottah’s claims against other defendants with prejudice under Rule 12(b)(6). While Mr. Ottah’s pro se status required liberal construction of his complaint, the district court correctly held that the claim’s requirement of a “book holder” could not plausibly reach the movants’ accused automotive camera holders, in view of the specification and file history. Mr. Ottah’s complaint also failed to allege the presence of other required features, such as a “telescoping arrangement” and a “front surface adapted for supporting a book.”

KEYWORDS: MOTION TO DISMISS; RULE 12; SUMMARY JUDGMENT; INFRINGEMENT (NO); CLAIM CONSTRUCTION; DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE; COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL