ITC Terminates Nitrile Glove Infringement Investigations

Today's Federal Register includes a U.S. International Trade Commission notice that ends two consolidated investigations, No. 337-TA-608 and No. 337-TA-612, that were based on complaints filed by Tillotson Corp., which sold its Best Glove unit to Showa Glove of Japan last year. The notice, issued Dec. 22, says the commission has affirmed an administrative law judge's Aug. 25, 2008, determination that Tillotson's asserted patent claims at issue in the cases are invalid.

The cases began in July 2007 when Tillotson filed complaints alleging more than 30 companies were importing and selling nitrile gloves imported in the United States that infringed on its claims of U.S. Patent No. Re. 35,616, "Elastomeric Covering Material and Hand Glove Made Therewith" (published Sept. 30. 1997), which was a reissue of surrendered Patent No. 5,014,362, also owned by Tillotson. There also has been federal court litigation over the patent in Georgia, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, according to a July 30, 2008, memorandum opinion by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District of Columbia in Ansell Healthcare Products LLC, et al. v. Tillotson Corporation, Civil Action No. 08-585.

The administrative law judge found that the majority of accused gloves infringe claims 17, 18, and 19 of the 35,616 patent, but the asserted claims are invalid. "He concluded that when the patentees amended the claims through a reissue application filed more than two years after the grant of the original patent, they improperly enlarged the scope of the claims, rendering them invalid. The ALJ further concluded that the claims are invalid because the patentees filed a defective reissue declaration when applying for the reissue patent. He rejected other arguments of invalidity and unenforceability. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that respondents had not violated section 337," according to ITC's notice.

Tillotson and some respondents sought review of the determination, and the commission took briefs and submissions, leading to the Dec. 22 affirmation and termination of the investigations.

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