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Patent Law: Philip Brooks’ Patent Infringement Updates
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Affirms Trial Court in Hemphill v. Kimberly-Clark and Proctor & Gamble
By Philip Brooks
The following is excerpted from the May 4, 2010 decision:
Allegra D. Hemphill appeals from an order issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia enjoining her from filing any new patent infringement lawsuits against Proctor & Gamble Company (?P&G?) and Kimberly-Clark Corporation (?K-C?) without prior leave of court. In view of Ms. Hemphill?s history of bringing meritless and duplicative litigation against P&G and K-C, we hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by entering the order. We therefore affirm.
After Ms. Hemphill again attempted to reassert her fraud arguments, the district court granted in part P&G and K-C?s motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. The sanctions order, issued on June 1, 2009, enjoined Ms. Hemphill from filing any new patent infringement lawsuits against P&G or K-C without first obtaining leave of the D.C. district court. The court further required Ms. Hemphill to certify and explain how any new complaint raises matters not previously decided by any federal court. On June 29, 2009, Ms. Hemphill appealed the sanctions order to the D.C. Circuit, which transferred the appeal to this court.
The court?s findings are well supported by the record. Ms. Hemphill has engaged in a vexatious pattern of filing multiple duplicative lawsuits, forum-shopping among various district and appellate courts, and requesting reconsideration of every adverse ruling in every case. It is also apparent that her claims are without merit. Her infringement claims are baseless in light of the conclusions in Hemphill I (affirmed by this court) that Ms. Hemphill disclaimed coverage of sanitary napkin products during the prosecution of the ?720 patent and that key terms common to both claims of the ?720 patent must be construed to exclude sanitary napkin products.
Read the full opinion here.
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