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Full Trial Required to Determine Claim of Patent Invalidity
Description Appeals court reversed district court granting summary judgment in favor of party accused of infringing a patent. When a defendant claims a patent is invalid, the evidence must be clear and convincing for defendant to be granted summary judgment. That was not the case here, as defendant's evidence did not rise to that level.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Patents; Patent Invalidity; Evidence
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Oney was awarded a patent in 1991 for a novelty shirt. In 1995, he sued Ratliff for infringement for selling a shirt with a similar design. Ratliff defended that he had sold some of his shirts shortly before Oney applied for his patent. Despite weak evidence to support Ratliff's assertion of prior invention, which would invalidate Oney's patent, the district court granted Ratliff summary judgment in his favor. Oney appealed.
Decision Reversed. When the validity of a patent is challenged, the evidence must be clear and convincing. Since Ratliff's evidence was weak-two employees testified on his behalf-summary judgment in his favor is not appropriate. There is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Ratliff created and sold the shirts prior to the patent's critical date, so a trial must be held.
Citation Oney v. Ratliff, 182 F.3d 893 (Fed. Cir., 1999)

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