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Justin E. Gray

Partner at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP

Former Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University School of Law

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Federal Circuit Vacates Preliminary Injunction Where District Court Applied Incorrect Claim Construction

Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC (Fed. Cir. June 1, 2011) (nonprecedential)

In this case, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction in part when the district court's ultimate claim construction of certain terms differed from the claim constructions relied upon in granting the preliminary injunction.  The patents at issue related to machine-based methods of folding training pants at the crotch region, aligning and fastening the side seams of the training pants, inspecting the training pants, and folding the training patents for packaging.

In arguing against the preliminary injunction, the defendant argued that all the patents at issue were invalid.  For two of the patents, the district court's claim construction of various terms at the preliminary injunction phase significantly undermined the defendant's invalidity positions.  While the appeal of preliminary injunction was pending at the Federal Circuit, the district court issued its claim construction order.  In this order, the court altered the claim constructions it had relied upon in granting a preliminary injunction for these two patents.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that, for both patents, the fact that the district court had applied improper claim constructions, which were subsequently corrected, undermined the conclusion that a preliminary injunction was appropriate for these patents, especially in light of the fact that the amended claim constructions significantly strengthened the defendant's invalidity positions.  For these reasons, the Federal Circuit vacated the grant of preliminary injunction for these two patents.