Federal court issues mixed ruling in Regal Beloit Inc. patent dispute case

By Sam Knef | Jun 25, 2017

ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton issued a mixed ruling in a patent infringement dispute.

Regal Beloit America, with locations across the globe, had sued China-based Broad Ocean Motor, et al. in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division alleging infringement on three patents related to products it makes for air conditioning systems.

Regal Beloit Inc. of Beloit, Wisconsin and Jakel Motors Inc. of Highland, Illinois, make up Regal Beloit America.

According to Hamilton's June 1 ruling, the plaintiff designs and manufactures draft inducers and blowers for use in a variety of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning, or HVAC, systems.

The patents in question relate to improvements in blower design that improve efficiency of HVAC systems.

Specifically, the Dynamic Condensate Evacuator for High Efficiency Gas Furnaces patent in question is a drain structure that allows accumulated condensation to drain from a furnace blower housing while the impeller is operating, the ruling states. The Blower Housing with Maximized Interior Spacing patent is a blower with increased interior space for accommodating the blower impeller; and the Snap-Fit Blower Housing Assembly and Seal Method patent is an improved snap-fit design for a blower housing assembly.

After suit was filed last year, Broad Ocean Motor filed a counterclaim seeking declaratory judgment that Regal Beloit's claims are invalid and that it did not infringe upon the plaintiff’s patents.

The dispute ruled on by Hamilton sought construction of a total of 27 terms involving the three patents.

Hamilton wrote that to determine the "correct claim construction, the court follows the 'bedrock principle' that 'the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude."

The ruling defined all 27 terms in dispute, favoring Regal Beloit in some instances and Broad Ocean in others.

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