Canada: A Quick Proceeding for Quick Couplers – Summary Trial Finding of Patent Non-infringement

Last Updated: November 14 2016
Article by Sean Jackson

On October 6, 2016, Justice Southcott dismissed Cascade's patent infringement action against Kinshofer in a motion for summary trial. Kinshofer did not contest the validity of the 065 Patent but asserted a defence of non-infringement.


The 065 Patent is directed to safety locking devices for quick couplers used with machines, like excavators, for quickly attaching implements to the end of the excavator arm. Each implement is equipped with a front pin and a back pin. The machine operator first causes one portion of the coupler to engage the front pin and then lowers a second portion of the coupler onto the back pin. A locking mechanism is then activated to hold the back pin and therefore the implement in place. If the back pin is not properly engaged the implement may detach. Safety locking devices, including the one disclosed in the 065 Patent, prevent detachment by securing the front pin in the coupler preventing detachment even if the back pin is not properly engaged.

Summary Trial

Cascade brought the issue of infringement before the Court through a motion for summary trial pursuant to Rule 213 of the Federal Courts Rules. Justice Southcott noted that in determining whether summary trial is appropriate the Court should consider factors such as the amount involved, the complexity of the matter, its urgency, any prejudice likely to arise by reason of delay, the cost of taking the case forward, the course of the proceedings and any other matters that arise for consideration. In holding that this matter was suitable for summary trial Justice Southcott stated that a significant factor weighing in favor of summary trial was that the parties had worked cooperatively to reduce complexity and narrow the issues in dispute.

Claims Construction and Infringement

Kinshofer argued that on a purposive construction the patent claims are limited to couplers that have independent hydraulic circuits for operating the front and back pin locks and that this essential element is missing from it's X-LOCK coupler. Cascade took the position that the claims only require that the front and back pins be operated independently, not that the underlying systems operating the pins be independent of each other.

After considering the expert evidence Justice Southcott noted that he preferred the evidence taking into account the disclosure's identification of the problem in the prior art and the disclosures explanation of how the invention addressed this problem:

[71] In summary, both experts have departed from what I would describe as optimal adherence to the principles applicable to patent claim construction. However, I consider Mr. Weller's approach to be the better of the two, as it takes into account the Patent disclosure's identification of the problem in the prior art of hydraulic dependence between the two locking systems, as well as the disclosure's explanation of how the preferred embodiment of the Patent addresses this problem. I consider this information to be necessary for purposes of construing the ambiguous language in the seventh element of claim 1.

Justice Southcott held that an essential element of the claim was that the hydraulic circuit releasing the front pin operate independently of the back pin hydraulic locking mechanism.Since the system operating the front and back pins in the X-LOCK coupler do not operate independently, Justice Southcott held that there was no infringement:

[4] ... I have construed the patent with the benefit of the expert evidence but have reached my own conclusions on the appropriate construction. I find that it is an essential element of Cascade's patent that the hydraulic circuit which releases the front pin operates independently of the back pin hydraulic locking mechanism. This means that the hydraulic circuit which releases the front pin must be able to perform its designed functions without regard for the status or function of the back pin hydraulic locking mechanism. I also find that the back pin hydraulic locking mechanism includes the mechanical components of the back pin lock and the hydraulic components that actuate these mechanical components.


[86] I find that the X-LOCK products do not infringe the Patent, because the essential element of the Patent (that the hydraulic componentry that moves the front pin safety locking device into an unlocked position operate independently of the hydraulic componentry of the back pin locking mechanism) is missing from the X-LOCK products. In order for the front pin lock to be disengaged, the pressure in one of the hydraulic lines which operates the back pin locking mechanism must exceed a particular pressure, such that the pressure valve permits flow of hydraulic fluid to the cylinder that retracts the front pin lock. Therefore, it cannot be said that the hydraulic componentry that moves the front pin safety locking device into an unlocked position is able to perform that function without regard to the status or function of the hydraulic componentry of the back pin locking mechanism.

A copy of Justice Southcott's Judgment and Reasons can be found here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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