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Claim Element With No Antecedent Basis May Be Broader Than the Same Element With an Antecedent Basis

| Hans L. Mayer

EVOLUSION CONCEPTS, INC. v. HOC EVENTS, INC.

Before Prost, Taranto, and Chen.  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Summary:  Claim that requires the removal of a “factory-installed catch bar” before installing “a catch bar” does not imply the preclusion of reuse of the original factory-installed bar.

Evolusion Concepts sued Juggernaut Tactical for infringement of a patent related to firearm magazine conversion kits.  On dueling motions for summary judgment of infringement and non-infringement, the parties disputed only whether the term “magazine catch bar” included a factory-installed catch bar.  The district court relied on one sentence of the specification to conclude in Juggernaut’s favor that the claim excludes a factory-installed magazine catch bar: “The invention is a permanent fixture added to a semi-automatic firearm by removing the standard OEM magazine catch assembly and installing the invention.” Evolusion appealed.

On appeal, Juggernaut argued that the district court construction was correct and the disputed term excluded factory-installed catch bars because the claim used “a” before “magazine catch bar,” instead of antecedent-basis language such as “said” or “the,” and thus the two magazine catch bars must be different. The Federal Circuit disagreed and reversed the District Court’s grant of Juggernaut’s motion and denial of Evolusion’s. The Federal Circuit explained that by using the language “a” magazine catch bar instead of antecedent-basis language such as “said” or “the” catch bar, by its ordinary meaning, “a magazine catch bar” could be “either the removed catch bar or a new or different catch bar.” 

Editor: Paul Stewart