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Artskills, Inc. v. Royal Consumer Products, LLC

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 1, 2019

ARTSKILLS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
ROYAL CONSUMER PRODUCTS, LLC, Defendant. Disputed Term Court's construction Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Relevant ‘352 Patent Claims Relevant ‘886 Patent Claims Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Relevant ‘352 Patent Claims Relevant ‘886 Patent Claims Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Relevant ‘352 Patent Claims Relevant ‘886 Patent Claims Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Relevant ‘352 Patent Claims Relevant ‘886 Patent Claims Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Patent Pl.'s Proposed Construction Def.'s Proposed Construction Disputed Term Court's construction

          RULING ON CLAIM CONSTRUCTION

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Artskills, Inc. (“Artskills” or “Plaintiff”) has sued Royal Consumer Products, LLC (“Defendant” or “RCP”), alleging that RCP was infringing two of Artskills's patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 9, 076, 352 (“the ‘352 Patent”) and 9, 495, 886 (“the ‘886 Patent”) (collectively, “the asserted Utility Patents”). See Complaint, dated Sept. 14, 2017 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1.

         RCP has brought counterclaims against Artskills, alleging that Artskills falsely marked its products with three patents: U.S. Patent Nos. D739, 467 (“the D467 patent”), D754, 253 (“the D253 patent”), and D706, 872 (“the D872 patent”) (collectively, “the asserted Design Patents.”). See Second Amended Answer, dated Dec. 14, 2018 (“Am. Ans.”), ECF No. 100.

         Following the submission of initial, supplemental, and responsive claim construction briefs by Artskills and RCP, the Court held a claim construction hearing under Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 (1996), to determine the construction of the disputed terms in the patent claims in question. Minute Entry, filed Apr. 9, 2019, ECF No. 121.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court construes the disputed terms in the asserted Utility Patents as follows:

Disputed Term

Court’s construction

‘352 Patent

‘886 Patent

“Pre-weakened line” A line in the sheet of material that has been weakened. A line in the blank that has been weakened.
“Folded state” [in Claim 6 only]: The state in which the first side panel is folded over the center panel about the first line in the sheet of material that has been weakened, and the second side panel is folded over the center panel about the second line in the sheet of material that has been weakened. [in Claim 8 only]: The state in which the first side panel is folded over the center panel about the first line in the blank that has been weakened, and the second side panel is folded over the center panel about the second line in the blank that has been weakened.
“Fold line” A line along which the sheet of material may be folded. n/a
“Perforation line” A line along which a portion of the sheet of material may be detached or separated. n/a

         For the reasons explained below, the Court construes the disputed terms of the asserted Design Patents as follows:

Disputed Term
Court's construction

“Blank” (D872 Patent)

A single piece of material to be assembled into a tri-fold display.

“Blank” (D467 & D253 Patents)

A single piece of material to be assembled into a multi-panel display.

“I claim the ornamental design for a tri-fold display blank, as shown and described.” (D872 Patent)

The ornamental aspects of the design of a single piece of material to be assembled into a tri-fold display, as shown in Figures 1-3, specifically the configuration of linear segments of equal length, the shape and positioning of slots in the header panel, the size/shape of the rounded panel corners, and the width/length/shape of the header and adhesive panels.

“I claim the ornamental design for a multi-panel display blank, as shown and described.” (D467 Patent)

The ornamental aspects of the design of a single piece of material to be assembled into a multi-panel display, as shown in Figures 1- 5, specifically the configuration of linear segments of equal length, the shape and positioning of slots in the header panel, the size/shape of the rounded panel corners, and the width/length/shape of the header and adhesive panels.

“I claim the ornamental design for a multi-panel display blank, as shown and described.” (D253 Patent)

The ornamental aspects of the design of a single piece of material to be assembled into a multi-panel display, as shown in Figures 1- 2, specifically the configuration of linear segments of equal length, the shape and positioning of slots in the header panel, the size/shape of the rounded panel corners, and the width/length/shape of the header and adhesive panels.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. The Asserted Utility Patents

         On February 5, 2015, Artskills filed the ‘352 Patent, entitled “Multi-Panel Display Device, Blank, and Method of Forming the Device, ” as Application No. 14/614, 742. See ‘352 Patent, annexed as Ex. B to Complaint, ECF No. 1-2. On July 7, 2015, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued the ‘352 Patent. Id.

         Artskills accuses RCP-through its sale of the RCP Eco Brites Project Board with Header-of infringing independent claim 1, dependent claims 2 through 7, independent claim 8, dependent claims 9 through 11, independent claim 12, and dependent claims 13 through 19 of the ‘352 Patent. Compl. ¶ 51. Those claims read as follows, with the disputed terms or phrases noted in bold typeface:

A multi-panel display device comprising:
a sheet of material comprising:
a center panel having a first edge, a second edge, a top edge, a bottom edge, a height measured between the top and bottom edges of the center panel, and a width WC measured between the first and second edges of the center panel;
a first side panel having a first free edge, a second edge, a top edge, a bottom edge, and a height measured between the top and bottom edges of the first side panel, the second edge of the first side panel attached to the first edge of the center panel along a first pre-weakened line;
a second side panel having a first edge, a second edge, a top edge, a bottom edge, and a height measured between the top and bottom edges of the second side panel, the first edge of the second side panel attached to the second edge of the center panel along a second pre-weakened line; and
a header panel having a first edge, a second edge, a top edge, a bottom edge, a height measured between the top and bottom edges of the head panel, and a width WH measured between the first and second edges of the header panel, the first edge of the header panel detachably coupled to the second edge of the second side panel along a third pre-weakened line, the header panel comprising a first slot and a second slot, each of the first and second slots extending from one of the first and second edges of the header panel towards the other of the first and second edges of the header panel, the first and second slots having a length LS measured from the one of the first and second edges of the header panel to a terminal end of the slots that is less than the width WH of the header panel, the first and second slots spaced apart by a distance D that is greater than the width WC of the center panel; the heights of the center panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, and the header panel being substantially the same so that the top and bottom edges of the center panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, and the header panel are aligned;
the sheet of material alterable between:
(1) a folded state in which:
(A) the first side panel is folded over the center panel about the first pre-weakened line; and
(B) the second side panel is folded over the center panel about the second pre-weakened line; and
(2) a display state in which:
(A) the header panel is broken away from the second side panel along the third pre-weakened line;
(B) the first and second side panels extend in a direction away from a front surface of the center panel; and
(C) the header panel is mounted to the first and second side panels so as to extend upward from the top edges of the first and second side panels.
2. The multi-panel display device of claim 1 wherein Ls is between
1.5 inches and 3 inches.
3. The multi-panel display device of claim 1 wherein the first and second pre-weakened lines are fold lines and wherein the third pre-weakened line is a perforation line.
4. The multi-panel display device of claim 1 wherein the first side panel has a width W1 measured between the first free edge and the second edge of the first side panel, the second side panel has a width W2 measured between the first and second edges of the second side panel, and wherein W1 is substantially equal to W2.
5. The multi-panel display device of claim 4 wherein W2 WH ≥ WC - W1, W1 > WH, and W2 > WH.
6. The multi-panel display device of claim 1 wherein in the folded state the header panel at least partially overlies a rear surface of the first side panel.
7. The multi-panel display device of claim 1 wherein in the display state the first and second side panels extend outwardly from the center panel in a manner oblique to the front surface of the center panel.
8. A multi-panel display device comprising:
a sheet of material comprising:
a center panel having a first edge, a second edge, and a width WC measured between the first and second edges;
a first side panel having a first free edge and a second edge, the second edge of the first side panel attached to the first edge of the center panel along a first pre-weakened line;
a second side panel having a first edge and a second edge, the first edge of the second side panel attached to the second edge of the center panel along a second pre-weakened line; and
a header panel having a first edge, a second edge, and a width WH measured between the first and second edges, the first edge of the header panel detachably coupled to the second edge of the second side panel along a third pre-weakened line;
wherein each of the center panel, the first side panel, the second side panel, and the header panel have the same height;
the sheet of material alterable between:
(1) a folded state in which:
(A) the first side panel is folded over the center panel about the first pre-weakened line; and
(B) the second side panel is folded over the center panel about the second pre-weakened line; and
(2) a display state in which:
(A) the header panel is broken away from the second side panel along the third pre-weakened line;
(B) the first and second side panels extend in a direction away from a front surface of the center panel; and
(C) the header panel is mounted to the first and second side panels so as to extend upward from top edges of the first and second side panels.
9. The multi-panel display device of claim 8 wherein the header panel comprises a first slot and a second slot, each of the first and second slots extending from one of the first and second edges of the header panel towards the other of the first and second edges of the header panel, the first and second slots having a length Ls measured from the one of the first and second edges of the header panel to a terminal end of the slots that is less than the width WH of the header panel, the first and second slots spaced apart by a distance D that is greater than the width WC of the center panel, and wherein LS is between 1.5 inches and 3 inches.
10. The multi-panel display device of claim 8 wherein the first and second pre-weakened lines are fold lines and wherein the third pre-weakened line is a perforation line.
11. The multi-panel display device of claim 8 wherein the first side panel has a width W, measured between the first free edge and the second edge of the first side panel, the second side panel has a width W2 measured between the first and second edges of the second side panel, and wherein W1 is substantially equal to W2, W1 > WH, W2 > WH, and W2 WH ≥ WC - W1.
12. A blank for a multi-panel display device comprising: a center panel having a first edge and a second edge;
a first side panel having a first free edge and a second edge, the second edge of the first side panel attached to the first edge of the center panel along a first pre-weakened line;
a second side panel having a first edge and a second edge, the first edge of the second side panel attached to the second edge of the center panel along a second pre-weakened line; and
a header panel having a first edge and a second edge, the first edge of the header panel detachably coupled to the second edge of the second side panel along a third pre-weakened line, the header panel comprising a first slot and a second slot, each of the first and second slots extending from one of the first and second edges of the header panel towards the other of the first and second edges of the header panel;
wherein the first side panel has a width W1 measured between the first free edge and the second edge of the first side panel, the second side panel has a width W2 measured between the first and second edges of the second side panel, the center panel has a width WC measured between the first and second edges of the center panel, and the header panel has a width WH measured between the first and second edges of the header panel, and wherein W2 WH ≥ WC - W1; and
wherein W1, is substantially equal to W2, W1 > WH, and W2 > WH.
13. The blank of claim 12 wherein the first and second slots have a length LS measured from the one of the first and second edges of the header panel to a terminal end of the first and second slots that is located between the first and second edges of the header panel, the length LS being less than the width WH of the header panel.
14. The blank of claim 13 wherein LS is between 1.5 inches and 3 inches.
15. The blank of claim 12 wherein the first and second slots are spaced apart by a distance D that is greater than the width WC of the center panel.
16. The blank of claim 12 wherein the first and second pre-weakened lines are fold lines and wherein the third pre-weakened line is a perforation line, the header panel being separable from the second side panel along the third pre-weakened line.
17. The blank of claim 12 wherein when the blank is in a folded state the first side panel is folded over the center panel about the first pre-weakened line and the second side panel is folded over the center panel about the second pre-weakened line so that the header panel overlies a rear surface of the first side panel.
18. The blank of claim 12 wherein the first side panel, the second side panel, the center panel, and the header panel collectively ...

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