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Cover v. Hydramatic Packing Co.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
83 F.3d 1390 (1996)
Craig H. Cover owned a patent for a lighting-fixture system having a batt of thermal insulation to protect its wiring from heat. Sea Gull Lighting, Inc. (Sea Gull) (defendant) manufactured and sold light fixtures incorporating thermal insulation it purchased from one of Cover’s exclusive licensees. The parts were made in accordance with Cover’s specification but were not marked with Cover’s patent number to provide notice of patent protection. Sea Gull later furnished drawings and specifications of the unmarked parts to Hydramatic Packing, Co. (Hydramatic) (plaintiff), who became a second, albeit unlicensed, supplier of the parts to Sea Gull. After noticing that Sea Gull was purchasing insulation parts from a nonlicensed supplier, Cover sent a cease-and-desist letter to Hydramatic and one to Sea Gull. The district court found the letter to Sea Gull did not constitute notice of infringement; therefore, Sea Gull could not be liable for damages for infringement beyond the time that it received notice by the filing of Cover’s complaint. Cover settled with Sea Gull and Hydramatic before trial. The only claim remaining for trial was Hydramatic’s state-law claim for indemnification under Pennsylvania state commercial law. The district court held that Hydramatic’s state-law claim was preempted by federal patent law. Hydramatic appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Rich, J.)
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