By: Mel R. Quintos
Introduction In the case of Akeva L.L.C. v. Nike, Inc., Adidas America, Inc., decided on July 16, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) looked into the specification (including the Summary of the Invention, Field of the Invention, and Background of the Invention sections) and Abstract of the patent in suit (U.S. Patent No. 5,560,126 or ‘126 patent) to determine whether the claim term “rear sole secured” may be interpreted to mean “permanently-fixed into position.” If so, a large group of shoe manufacturers, including Asics, Nike, Inc., Adidas America Inc., New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. and Puma North America Inc., would infringe Akeva L.L.C.’s ‘126 patent claims.
Background In addition to owning the ‘126 patent, Akeva L.L.C. (Akeva) owns a portfolio of additional footwear patents, including U.S. Patent Nos. 5,560,126; 6,966,130; 7,114,269; 5,380,350; and 7,540,099. The later mentioned patents all claim priority to the ‘126 patent and are referred to as the “Continuation Patents.” Akeva sued Asics, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Puma in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina alleging infringement of certain claims of the ‘126 patent. The district court granted all the defendants’ Summary Judgment of: (1) no infringement as to the ‘126 patent, and (2) invalidity as to the asserted claims of Akeva’s Continuation Patents.