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DSU Medical Corporation v. JMS Company, Ltd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
471 F.3d 1293 (2006)


DSU Medical Corporation and Medisystems Corporation (collectively “DSU”) (plaintiff) held the ‘311 and ‘072 patents which claimed a guarded, winged-needle assembly that reduced the incident of needle-stick injuries. ITL Corporation Pty, Limited, (“ITL”) (defendant) manufactured a clamshell-configured needle guard called the Platypus without a needle. JMS Company, Ltd. and JMS North America, (collectively “JMS”) (defendant) began purchasing the Platypus guards and entered into a distribution agreement with ITL to distribute the guards with included needle sets worldwide. DSU brought suit against JMS and ITL for infringement, inducement to infringe, and contributory infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. DSU alleged that the Platypus infringed the ‘311 patent and that JMS and ITL induced each other to infringe. Claim 1 of the ‘311 patent disclosed “[a] guard slidably enclosing a sliding assembly comprising a needle and a winged needle hub…” The district court concluded that the claim required the inclusion of a needle at all times. Because the Platypus was a stand-alone guard, without a needle, it granted summary judgment to JSM and ITL on a number of issues. Also, because the Platypus’ closed-shell configuration contained a “slot” to hold the needle, it did infringe claims 46-47, 49, and 52-53 of the ‘311 patent when closed over a needle set. The jury found that JMS directly and contributorily infringed and assessed over $5 million in damages. The jury also found that ITL did not infringe nor engaged in contributory infringement or inducement to infringe. JMS appealed.

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