How do Your Arguments Look in the Mirror?

Maytag v. Electrolux (N.D. Iowa 2006, 04-4067).

Maytag sued Electrolux for infringement of its patents relating to the design of a washing machine basket.  After a Markman hearing, Chief Judge Bennet began his claim construction decision with an “excerpt from a remarkably wise children’s story:”

  “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
  “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
  “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 219 (George Stade ed., 2004) (1871). According to Judge Bennet, “[t]he irony in this case is that it is not altogether clear to the court just who is being Humpty Dumpty.” 

One innovative approach taken by the judge was to present a draft claim construction decision to the attorneys well before the Markman hearing as a way to help focus the hearing.  According to the Court, the experiment was a great success.


Dennis Crouch

About Dennis Crouch

Law Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law. Co-director of the Center for Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship.

2 thoughts on “How do Your Arguments Look in the Mirror?

  1. Mr. Crouch:
    Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your website.

    BArbara M. Frezza

  2. this is as good as it gets “the experiment was a great success.” , and I like this a lot “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

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