GDC Enterprises, Inc. (“GDC”), a corporation with a place of business in Gainesville, Georgia, filed a patent infringement action on June 3, 2014 against Robco Manufacturing, Inc, d/b/a Alumadock (“Alumadock”), a North Carolina corporation, relating to United States Patent No. 8,668,407 (the ‘407 Patent) entitled “Docking System with Joint Supports,” which issued on March 11, 2014.
The ‘407 Patent begins its section on the Background of the Invention in unconventional fashion, as follows:
Just three days before he died in a plane crash outside of Madison, Wis., Otis Redding recorded the number one hit “The Dock of the Bay” about a person that was fed up with a hectic life in Georgia and traveled to the San Francisco Bay to just sit on a dock. There is something alluring about docks, some element that captivates our attention, draws us in, and triggers some distant emotion that is embedded deeply within. The allure may be tied to the merging aspect of a dock that allows us to move from land to sea, to experience the water from a more intimate perspective.
Thus begins a patent that contains two independent claims to a unique and innovative combination of elements that, according to the complaint, captured the imagination and imitation of a competitor. Below is Figure 1C from the patent.
In this instance the words may be worth a thousand pictures.
After its eloquent beginning, the patent diverges to the more lawyerly, technical claim language that seems to hold allure and fascination for a much more limited body of citizens – patent lawyers. It was with some difficulty that the author came to accept that the following claim language was written by the same person who penned the introductory prose quoted above.
A dock construction system comprising:
a fascia component defining an interior channel having a particular cross-sectional shape and further comprising one or more integral lips along its length that extend away from the interior channel, wherein an integral lip is configured to receive and support an end of one or more cross beams;
a corner connector component including a first side and a second side joined at a desired angle, wherein at least one of the first side and the second side includes a support insert having a cross-sectional shape that corresponds to the particular cross-sectional shape of the fascia component interior channel, wherein when the support insert of the corner connector is inserted into the channel of the fascia component, the fascia component provides structural support for the corner connector; and
one or more cross beams supported by one of the one or more integral lips of the fascia component.
Upon closer reading, the intimate prose to which the patentee initially ascribed comes through with an unusual sprinkling of claim terms, such as “integral lips along its length,” “desired angle,” and a “fascia component interior channel.” Perhaps the introductory prose inspires the reader to imagine elements that are not really there. In any event, the author looks forward to a Markman ruling that will set the record straight as to what the terms mean and how they are appropriately applied.
Alumadock is accused of intentional infringement by selling the infringing aluminum docking products. GDC seeks an injunction, the surrender or destruction of all infringing products, a report on compliance with the injunction, damages, trebled damages as a result of the intentional infringement, attorney’s fees, and costs.
The case is GDC Enterprises, Inc. v. Robco Manufacturing, Inc. d/b/a Alumadock, No. 1:14-cv-01708-SCJ, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, on June 3, 2014, and assigned to U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones.