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Clim-A-Tech Industries Inc. v. Ebert

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 7, 2018

Clim-A-Tech Industries Incorporated, Plaintiff/Counterdefendant,
v.
William A. Ebert, et al., Defendants/Counterclaimants.

          ORDER

          Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge

         Pending before this Court are the briefs addressing claim construction. (Docs. 90- 91, 93-94). The Court held a Markman Hearing on February 23, 2018, at which the parties presented additional arguments. For the reasons set forth below, the Court makes the following constructions and interpretations of the meaning of the disputed claims.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant William Ebert patented a device to protect the edges of cathode plates used in copper refinement. U.S. Patent RE46, 212 E ('212) (Doc. 39-1). In the underlying lawsuit, Plaintiff Clim-A-Tech Industries seeks a declaratory judgment that it is not infringing on Mr. Ebert's patent.

         A typical process for copper refinement requires submersion of steel cathode plates in a copper electrolyte solution. Because copper gathers irregularly on the edges of the cathode plates, refiners cover the edges of the cathode plates with a non-conductive frame. Due to a number of issues with the previous art, Mr. Ebert patented a process of placing the bevel-cut ends of edge protector strips next to each other in a molding jig, then introducing a fluid plastic into the jig that molds over the bevel cut ends of the edge protectors at the two corners of the frame to form a unitary U-shaped edge protector frame.

         The parties dispute the meaning of “mating engagement” and “juncture” in claims 1, 15, and 17 of the patent. The full text of Claim 1 of the ‘212 patent, with disputed phrases underlined, is as follows:

         1. A U-shaped edge protector system for a cathode plate, comprising:

a. a first side edge strip and a second side edge strip, each of said side edge strips having an upper end and a lower end, and, an inner, open side portion extending therebetween, said lower end having a bevel termination;
b. a bottom edge strip having an [sic] first end with a bevel termination in mating engagement with said bevel termination of said first side edge strip forming a first juncture, and having a second end with a bevel termination in mating engagement with said bevel termination of said second side edge strip forming a second juncture, said bottom edge strip having an inner, open side portion extending between said first end and said second end;
c. a first molded comer piece, said first corner piece being molded over said first juncture; and,
d. a second molded comer piece, said second corner piece being molded over said second juncture, forming a unitary structure.

(Doc. 39-1 at 10).

         The full text of Claim 15, with disputed phrases underlined, is as follows:

         15. A method for making a U-shaped edge protector system for a cathode plate, comprising the steps of:

a. providing a first side edge strip and a second side edge strip, each of said side edge strips having an upper end and a lower end, and an inner, open side portion extending ...

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