Summary Judgment For Ultimate Support Systems in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
As previously reported in MMR, On March 23rd, 2011, K.H.S. Musical Instrument Co., Ltd., the manufacturer and supplier of the HERCULES Guitar Stands, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Ultimate Support Systems Inc. of Loveland, Colorado.
The lawsuit involves US Patent No. 7,105,732 owned by K.H.S. and claims infringement by Ultimate Support and its Guitar Stand GS-1000, built with a grabbing system called the “Self-closing Yoke.” K.H.S. Musical Instrument Co., Ltd. contended that the stand infringed K.H.S.’s patent, which was issued detailing a self-locking neck mechanism for a musical instrument stand that would hold an instrument, such as a guitar, in place while on the stand.
Ultimate Support moved for summary judgment on the basis that the GS-1000 did not infringe the patent. The federal court agreed with Ultimate Support on all counts, granting its motion for summary judgment, and ruling that the GS-1000 did not infringe the K.H.S. patent.
In a 22-page opinion, the court carefully analyzed the differences in the two companies’ musical stands and found the components at issue in the GS-1000 to not only be non-infringing, but also to be “the exact opposite of what the claim recites.” As the court explained, an accused product does not literally infringe a patented invention if it fails to meet even one claim limitation found in the patent-in-suit. “Here, the GS-1000 does not literally infringe at least three claim limitations.” Accordingly, the Court found that the GS-1000 stand did not literally infringe the K.H.S. patent as a matter of law. The court then went further by ruling that, in addition to its finding of no literal infringement, each element of the claims presented in the accused product was not equivalent to those found in the patent-in-suit, and therefore there was no infringement by equivalence either.