Friday, October 13, 2017

Water Bottle Wars

Whatever outdoor activity you are doing, there is probably a water bottle designed for it. Water bottles are big business, and intellectual property is a big part of that big business.
CamelBak was recently on the receiving end of potential patent infringement assertions by Ignite and fought back with an Inter Partes Review at the Patent Office. Camelbak relied on prior art by Swilion.  Whether Ignite's patent (see the image on the right below, with Ignite's patent on the left) was valid turned on the meaning of the term "connected." The Ignite patent required:
a lid housing having a drink aperture;
a seal arm connected to the lid housing and movable between a first position, wherein the seal arm is adjacent the drink aperture, and a second position, wherein the seal arm is distal the drink aperture, the seal arm being connected to the lid housing in the first position and the second position ...
Image from Ignite's patent on the left, and an image from Swilion's prior art on the right.
If the "connected" term was limited to a preferred embodiment in the patent requiring a permanent connection, then the prior art was allegedly inapplicable; however, if the term could encompass removable connections, like those allegedly shown in Swilion's prior art, then the patent was too broad and thus invalid.
Because the Patent Office interprets words according to the Broadest Reasonable Interpretation, the Court found that the term could encompass removable connections and thus the Ignite patent was obvious in view of Swilion's disclosure.
Thus, while there were clearly other structural and functional differences between Ignite and Swillion's design, those differences were not claimed.


Note that the views expressed herein do not represent the views of any law firm or client, and may not even represent the views of the author. This blog is NOT legal advice and is for informational purposes only. No attorney client relationship can be formed by reading this blog or using any of the information provided. The accuracy of the information provided has not been verified.