United States District Court, D. Delaware
DRger MEDICAL GmbH, DRAEGER MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC., and DRAEGER MEDICAL INC., Plaintiffs,
ALLIED HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.
SUE L. ROBINSON, Judge.
At Wilmington this 24th day of March, 2014, having reviewed the submissions, both written and oral, offered by the parties in connection with plaintiffs' motion for the entry of a preliminary injunction, the court offers the following analysis:
1. Background. The patented technology in this case involves carbon dioxide (C02) absorbers for rebreathing systems, such as anesthesia machines. The CO2 absorbers at issue are disposable canisters which are filled with a mixture of chemicals called "soda lime" to filter out CO2 in order, e.g., to keep anesthetized patients oxygenated.
2. Plaintiffs manufacture and sell medical and safety equipment, including a line of anesthesia equipment and related products. A subset of the anesthesia-related products includes "Drägersorb® CLIC" disposable canisters, which canisters are attached to anesthesia machines via the "Dräger CLIC" adapter. When a CLIC canister is used up, it is removed from the CLIC adapter and a new CLIC canister is inserted into the CLIC adapter in its place. The Dräger CLIC system offers various benefits to clinicians: (a) it is cleaner and more convenient to remove and replace a CLIC canister than it is to replace loose fill soda lime; (b) it allows clinicians to avoid contact with soda lime and soda lime dust; (c) it allows more complete utilization of soda lime, thus reducing costs; and (d) it allows clinicians to change the canister at any time, even during surgery.
3. Defendant sells what it calls "Dräger Style" soda lime disposable canisters, the "Dräger Style" Litholyme and Carbolime products (the "accused products"). The accused products are specifically designed to work with the Dräger CLIC adapter, as a replacement for Drägersorb® CLIC canisters. Plaintiffs and defendant are the only two companies selling canisters for use with the Dräger CLIC adapter. Plaintiffs allege that, by the summer of 2013, defendant was taking business away from plaintiffs by undercutting their prices, thus causing a loss of business, ongoing price erosion, and a threat to the Dräger brand.
4. United States Patent No. 8, 286, 633 ("the '633 patent") issued to Dräger Medical GmbH on October 16, 2012. Entitled "Carbon Dioxide Absorber for a Rebreathing System, " the basic object of the '633 patent is "to improve a carbon dioxide absorber such that it can be connected to the connection head of a rebreathing system in a simple manner." ('633 patent, col. 1:51-53) Consistent with the inventive thrust of the patent, the carbon dioxide absorber disclosed in claim 1 comprises:
a connection head at the rebreathing system, said connection head including a pivotable mount;
an absorber housing;
a guide plate on a front side of said absorber housing, said guide plate being pushed into said pivotable mount of said connection head;
guide plate gas ducts arranged concentrically at said guide plate;
connection head gas ducts provided in said connection head and with a design corresponding to said guide plate gas ducts, said guide plate gas ducts for connection to said connection head gas ducts;
guide grooves between said guide plate and said absorber housing for connecting said guide plate to said mount;
centering pins pointing in a direction of said absorber housing from said connection head; and
centering means in one or more of said guide plate and said absorber housing, said centering means for meshing with said ...