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Arminak and Associates, Inc. v. Saint-Gobain Calmar, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
501 F.3d 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2007)


Facts

Arminak and Associates, Inc. (Arminak) (plaintiff) and Saint-Gobain Calmar, Inc. (Calmar) (defendant) sell trigger sprayers for domestic products (e.g., window cleaner) to producers of such products (e.g., Windex). Calmar does not sell its trigger sprayers directly to retail customers, but only to companies that produce the actual liquid products. Calmar obtained two patents for the “shroud” of its trigger sprayers—the top portion of the sprayer behind the nozzle. Subsequently, Arminak began selling its “AA Trigger” shroud. Arminak filed suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, seeking a declaratory judgment that the AA Trigger did not infringe on Calmar’s patents. Calmar filed a patent infringement counterclaim, arguing that the “ordinary observer” for purposes of the infringement analysis was a retail customer of one of the household products. Calmar’s own witness conceded that the industrial companies that buy the shrouds for trigger sprayer assembly would be able to tell the difference between Calmar’s shroud and the AA Trigger. The district court found in favor of Arminak, ruling that the appropriate ordinary observer was an industrial company that fills the trigger sprayers, and that such companies would not find substantial similarities between the shrouds. Calmar appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Holderman, C.J.)

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