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Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Space Systems/Loral, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
324 F.3d 1308, 66 U.S.P.Q.2d 1282 (2002)
Lockheed Martin Corp. (Lockheed) (plaintiff) was assigned U.S. Patent No. 4,084,772 (the 772 patent), which claimed an apparatus and method for directing satellite movements. Lockheed sued Space Systems/Loral Inc. (Space Systems) (defendant), alleging Space Systems’ satellites infringed the 772 patent. Limitation (b) of claim 1 of the 772 patent, a means-plus-function limitation, disclosed a “means for rotating [the] wheel . . . which varies sinusoidally over the orbit at the orbital frequency of the satellite.” The means-for clause in limitation (b) was immediately followed by a “whereby” clause that described the effects of the sinusoidally varying wheel. During claim construction, the district court identified the function of limitation (b) as “rotating [the] wheel.” The district court construed the phrase “varies sinusoidally over the orbit at the orbital frequency” to mean moving in one direction, slowing to zero, stopping, and then reversing direction twice during orbit. Both parties agreed with the district court’s construction. Lockheed admitted that Space Systems’ satellites did not slow in one direction, stop, and then reverse during orbit. Space Systems moved for summary judgment of noninfringement, which the district court granted. Lockheed appealed, arguing that a factual dispute existed over whether Space Systems’ satellites infringed limitation (b) under the doctrine of equivalents.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gajarsa, J.)
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