Federal Circuit gives Paint-Roller Patentee Chance for a Second Coat

Diversified Dynamics v. Wagner Spray Tech (Fed. Cir. 2004) (NONPRECEDENTIAL)

In a patent infringement suit involving Diversified’s patented “duckbill check valve” for controlling paint flow to a paint-roller, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of claims. The appellate panel found that a prior settlement agreement between the parties did not bar the present suit.

We conclude that the plain language of the release requires a narrow construction. The plain language releases Wagner from “any and all actions … arising out of or in any way related to the ‘176 Patent” (emphasis added). We agree with both of the parties that the release is unambiguous; however, we agree with Diversified as to its proper construction. The phrases “arising out of” and “in any way related to” refer back to the ‘176 patent and require a relationship between the action and the patent itself. We similarly note the order of the language in the release. Under the language of the release, the issue is whether an action is related to the ‘176 patent, not whether the ‘176 patent is related to the action.
Based on our reading of the release, we conclude that the district court improperly construed it to preclude Diversified’s suit on the ‘123 patent. As discussed, we focus on the nature of the action and its relation to the ‘176 patent. Here, the action arises out of and is related to the ‘123 patent.

Reversed and remanded.