ITC Claim Construction Vacated — Court Unnecessariliy Limited Claim Scope

Sorensen v. ITC (Fed. Cir. 2005)

Sorensen alleged that Mercedes-Benz imports violated its patented injection molded tail lights. and requested that the ITC institute an investigation under 19 USC 1337.  However, after the investigation, the ITC found no infringement based on its interpretation of the claims.

The patent is directed to a multi-layer injection molding with at least two materials having “different characteristics.”  The only difference between the accused layers was that they were different colors, and the ITC found that “different characteristics” must refer to different molecular properties and not to color.  Under this claim construction, it was easy for the ITC to find no infringement.

On appeal, the CAFC reversed because the claim did not exclude color as a basis for differing characteristics, the specification did not so limit the term, and there was no disavowal of scope in the prosecution history.

Summary judgment vacated.