Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

E-Pass Technologies, Inc. v. 3Com Corporation (also known as 3Com, Inc.), et al.

Posted in Opinion Commentary by Jake Ward on January 17, 2007

When the CAFC Vacates and Remands, It Does Not Indicate or Suggest That the Lower Court’s Decision is Erroneous.

(Fed. Cir. 2007, 06-1356)


To the CAFC for the second time, E-Pass claimed improper the final summary judgment holding that none of the defendants (including 3Com) directly or indirectly infringed E-Pass’s U.S. Patent No. 5,276,311 (“the ’311 patent”).  Specifically, E-Pass challenged the district court’s interpretation of the previous CAFC opinion where the CAFC had vacated and remanded to the district court to address the issue of infringement under the CAFC’s construction (no dimensional limitation) of the term “card.”   

The ‘311 patent at issue relates to a method and device for substituting a single electronic multifunction card for multiple credit cards.  E-Pass accused 3Com of inducing consumers to practice the steps of the patented method on its Palm PDA products, e.g. the Treo cell phone.  

On appeal, E-Pass first argued that the district court disobeyed the mandate of this court by entering summary judgment in favor of 3Com as to the construction of the “electronic multi-function card” limitation.  The CAFC disagreed with this contention.  “Once a case has been decided on appeal, the rule adopted is to be applied, right or wrong, absent exceptional circumstances, in the disposition of the lawsuit.”  By vacating, the court signals that, although the district court’s prior decision rested upon erroneous grounds, a proper claim construction might support a judgment (summary or otherwise) in favor of either party.  Thus, the district court was within its right on remand to grant summary judgement to 3Com, even though E-Pass had won at the CAFC as to the issue of claim construction.

As to the infringement issues, the CAFC further recited that it is hornbook law that to survive the defendants’ motions for summary judgment, a party must “make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [each] element essential to [its] case.”  E-Pass must show that all of the steps of the ‘311 method claim were performed, and in order. E-pass did not meet this burden.  The evidence shows, at best, that the Palm defendants taught their customers each step of the claimed method in isolation. Nowhere does the evidence teach all of the steps of the claimed method together, much less in the required order.

Accordingly, the district court properly granted summary judgment.  Affirmed.

They Invented What? (No. 31)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on January 17, 2007

U.S. Pat. No. 4,656,687:  Elephant-shaped car cleaner and air pump.



Vacuum cleaners are widely used today for cars, but portable car air pumping devices are seldom seen. If a car tire should be found to be short of air pressure on a highway, such a portable air pumping device might be very convenient for a driver, especially if it would be combined together with a vacuum cleaner, making use of the same motor used in the cleaner. So this car cleaner and air pump has been shaped as an elephant for an attractive appearance.


I claim: 

1. An elephant-shaped car vacuum cleaner and air pump, including: an elephant-shaped cover, a dirt suction device consisting of an inlet passage, a motor, an impeller driven by the motor, and a dirt bag; an air pumping device consisting of said motor, a transmission consisting of a worm gear rod, a worm-gear wheel, and an eccentric crank; and a cylinder with a piston driven by said transmission; a lighting and colored-light signaling device, and an electric power system; having the characteristics that dirt can be suctioned and collected in the dirt bag through said inlet passage in a trunk of said cover by the suction created by the impeller turned by the motor; and that air can be pumped by compressing the air coming into the cylinder through an exhaust pipe from the impeller by means of the piston driven by the transmission.

2. The elephant-shaped car vacuum and air pump as set forth in claim 1, wherein the head portion of the cover is able to be lifted open for cleaning and emptying the dirt bag, and the body portion of the cover has on its upper surface a pressure gauge and a circular valve for closing or venting the air chamber to the atmosphere, so that for pumping air into a tire, the valve can be closed to make the air flow into the cylinder, and the air pressure in the cylinder indicated by the gauge.

3. The elephant-shaped car vacuum and air pump as set forth in claim 1, wherein the lighting or colored-light signalling is accomplished by at least one light set into at least one eye in a head portion of the cover, and covered by a multi-colored lens able to change its color from red to green or transparent.