Norgren, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, No. 11-1349 (Fed. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
The 392 patent discloses a “four-sided, generally rectangular clamp” for connecting fluid flow elements, especially those used in compressed air systems—filters, regulators, and lubricators. The only independent claim is for a four-sided, generally rectangular clamp having a hinged side that can be opened to receive flanges of the elements and closed to hold the flanges. Norgren complained to the International Trade Commission that importation or sale of SMC devices alleged to infringe the patent violated the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. 1337. The ALJ found no violation, construing the claim to require four projecting rims on the flange of the element whereas SMC flanges have two rims and found the claims nonobvious. The Federal Circuit reversed because the generally rectangular ported flange of the asserted claims was not limited to a flange having four projecting rims. On remand, the ALJ found the asserted claims not invalid under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Commission reversed, finding the asserted claims obvious, and, thus, no section 337 violation. A prior art SMC clamp is four-sided and generally rectangular; addition of a hinge to that connector would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill. The Federal Circuit affirmed.