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Disagreement Of Experts Enough To Preclude Summary Judgment In Beverage Can Patent Dispute

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Crown Packaging Tech., Inc. v. Rexam Beverage Can Co., C.A. No. 05-608-MPT (D. Del. Oct. 5, 2007).

In this chapter of the beverage can patent dispute between the parties, Magistrate Judge Thynge denied Crown’s motion for summary judgment of patent invalidity. Crown argued that certain asserted claims are invalid under § 102(g)(2) by a prior process practiced by the Ball Corporation. Rexam argued that the Ball process was not prior art because the claims at issue claim priority from a PCT application with a priority date predating the reduction to practice of the Ball process. (Still with me? If not, re-read the last sentence.) Each side’s respective experts disagreed (imagine that!) over whether one of ordinary skill in the art would understand the PCT application to inherently disclose “radial movement of the reforming roller,” a limitation present in the asserted claims. If the “radial movement” limitation is not found (either expressly or inherently) in the PCT application, then the patentee cannot rely on the PCT application’s priority date. Due to this disagreement between the experts about whether a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand the PCT application to inherently disclose the “radial movement,” the Court denied the motion for summary judgment.

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