The opinion of the court was delivered by: Illston, U.S. District Judge.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
OF NON-INFRINGEMENT OF U.S. PATENT NO. 4,084,772
On February 25, 2000, the Court heard argument on defendant's motion
for summary judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 4,084,772.
Having considered the arguments of counsel and the papers submitted, and
for the reasons set out below, the Court hereby GRANTS defendant's motion
for summary judgment.
Plaintiff Lockheed Martin Corporation ("Lockheed") alleges infringement
of United States Patent No. 4,084,772 (the "'772 patent"), entitled
"Roll/Yaw Body Steering For Momentum Biased Spacecraft," by defendant
Space Systems/Loral, Inc. ("SSL"). The '772 patent claims a system and
method for reducing the pointing errors of a satellite that has entered
into an inclined orbit by varying the speed of the satellite's transverse
momentum wheel in a sinusoidal manner. Although Lockheed had alleged that
ten different types of SSL satellites infringe the '772 patent, it now
concedes that six of these types do not infringe. Because the four
remaining types of satellites all use the same momentum wheel
configuration and inclined orbit software, the focus of this action has
been narrowed to the first of these four, which is the Intelsat VII
Most communications satellites operate optimally in a geosynchronous,
equatorial orbit, circling the earth once every 24 hours in the
equatorial plane and thus remaining in the same position relative to the
earth's surface. Such positioning allows for a consistent relationship
between the satellite and a transmitter on earth, from which the
satellite receives and relays radio signals. It is essential that a
satellite maintain a proper attitude, or orientation, so that its
communication devices (e.g., antennae) are properly directed
towards the earth. Satellites are subject to various destabilizing
forces, such as gravitational effects from the sun and moon, or even the
force exerted by light from the sun, which all serve to disturb ideal
orbit and attitude. For example, the orbit of a geostationary satellite
acquires an inclination at the rate of about 0.8 degrees a year due to
the gravitational forces of the sun and moon. These forces cause the
satellite to drift out of its orbit in the equatorial plane and into an
inclined orbit, which in turn causes a periodic attitude error.
To maintain a proper attitude, most satellites employ at least one
momentum wheel powered by an electric motor. A spinning momentum wheel
creates angular momentum, or "stiffness," which provides a torquing force
that alters the attitude of the satellite. Thus, by careful control, a
proper attitude for the satellite can be maintained. The method and
apparatus claimed by the '772 patent provide for a satellite momentum
wheel that is used to correct for the natural periodic pointing error of
inclined orbit satellites. This is accomplished by altering the speed of
the wheel, which in turn adjusts satellite attitude and counteracts the
attitude error introduced by the inclined orbit.
On August 19, 1998 the Court issued its Order Partially Granting
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, which construed a disputed claim
term, granted SSL's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of
claim 7, and denied SSL's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement
of claims 1-6. The term "hi-directional rotation," which is found in
claim 1, was construed to require that the rotating transverse wheel
accelerate in one direction, slow down to a speed of zero, and then
rotate in the opposite direction.
On March 11, 1999 the Court issued its Claim Construction Order, which
construed another disputed claim term and clarified other contested claim
construction matters. The term "varies sinusoidally," which is also found
in claim 1, was construed to mean a variation in a sine-shaped curve that
passes through zero. The Court also found that this term inherently
excludes any other added components that might cause the transverse wheel
speed not to pass through zero. The Court's earlier construction of
"bi-directional rotation" was reaffirmed, and the Court declined to adopt
an additional proposed limitation that the wheel be capable of "operating
through zero in a controllable manner."
After subsequent discovery, defendant SSL now moves again for summary
judgment of non-infringement. Because the Court has already held that
claim 7 is not infringed, and because claims 2-6 are dependent upon claim
1, a determination of non-infringement of claim 1 would be dis-positive.
The issues presently before this Court are whether elements (b) and (f)
of claim 1 may be found in the accused devices either literally or
through the doctrine of equivalents.
Noninfringement is an issue of fact. See Suntiger, Inc. v. Scientific
Research Funding Group, 189 F.3d 1327, 1335 (Fed. Cir. 1999). A motion
for summary judgment may be granted when "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c). See also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Summary
judgment is as appropriate in a patent case as in any other case in which
no genuine issue of material fact remains. See Barmag Barmer
Maschinenfabrik AG v. Murata Mach., Ltd., 731 F.2d 831, 835 (Fed.Cir.
1984). Procedural matters not unique to patent law are decided by
applying the law of the relevant regional circuit.
See Transmatic, Inc. v. Gulton Indus., Inc., 58 F.3d 1270, 1278
It is initially the burden of the party moving for summary judgment to
establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is
therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See British Airways
Bd. v. Boeing Co., 585 F.2d 946, 951 (9th Cir. 1978). If the moving party
meets its initial burden of identifying for the court those portions of
the materials on file that it believes demonstrate the absence of any
genuine issues of material fact, then the burden of production shifts so
that the non-moving party must set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial. See T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific
Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir, 1987) (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553). To carry this burden, the
nonmoving party must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348,
1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence is insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury ...