Articles Posted in Patents

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Plaintiff-Appellant Digital Ally, Inc. appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee Utility Associates, Inc. The two companies sold in-car video and surveillance systems. Utility owned U.S. Patent No. 6,381,556 (the ’556 patent) by purchasing the patent and other assets in January 2013 from a supplier of in-car mobile surveillance systems. Utility and its CEO, Robert McKeeman, believed that the ’556 patent was potentially valuable and covered existing systems already in commerce. Thereafter, Utility sent letters to potential customers (who were at that time customers of competitors), including Digital Ally, regarding the consequences of purchasing unlicensed and infringing systems. It urged customers to instead purchase systems from Utility because it now owned the ’556 patent. In October 2013, Digital Ally sought a declaratory judgment of non- infringement in Kansas federal district court, but the suit was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over Utility. In May 2013, Digital Ally filed a petition for inter partes review with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to determine the validity of all claims on the ’556 patent. The PTAB instituted a review of Claims 1– 7 and 9–25 and determined that Claims 1–7, 9, 10, and 12–25 were unpatentable, and that Claim 11 was not shown to be unpatentable. Claim 8 was not reviewed. The Federal Circuit affirmed this decision. On June 4, 2014, Digital Ally filed this suit with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, containing nine counts against Utility, including monopolization, false advertising, tortious interference, bad faith assertion of patent infringement, defamation and product disparagement, and trade secret misappropriation. The district court granted Utility’s motion for summary judgment on all nine counts and denied Digital Ally’s motion for partial summary judgment. The Tenth Circuit, in affirming the district court's judgment, concluded Digital Ally failed to sufficiently argue the issues it sought to appeal, "[t]he failure to do so amounts to a concession as to the proof." View "Digital Ally v. Utility Associates" on Justia Law

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Attorney John Cogswell appealed the imposition of a Rule 11 sanction. Acting on behalf of Predator International, Inc., Cogswell filed a lawsuit in April 2009 against Gamo Outdoor USA, Inc. and Industrias El Gamo, S.A. (collectively, Gamo). The original complaint alleged patent infringement and other claims. When it appeared that Lee Phillips, a co-inventor of the patent at issue, was asserting that he still owned half the patent, Cogswell moved to dismiss the infringement claim, explaining that Predator would litigate ownership in state court with the expectation of reviving the patent-infringement claim once it had established its ownership. The state litigation expanded after Gamo purchased Phillips’s interest in the patent. Cogswell then moved in federal court to supplement Predator’s complaint with a challenge to Gamo’s claimed interest in the patent and moved to amend the complaint by reviving the patent-infringement claim. The district court denied the motion. Eventually the district court imposed a Rule 11 sanction on Cogswell for filing the motion to supplement and amend Predator’s complaint, justifying the sanction on grounds that he was forum shopping on the claims he wished to add, his motion came too long after he had learned of Gamo’s purchase of Phillips’s interest in the patent, and nothing had changed to justify his reinstating the patent-infringement claim. The Tenth Circuit reversed: the motion to supplement and amend was not unwarranted under existing law. View "Predator International v. Gamo Outdoor" on Justia Law

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In October 2004, Cellport Systems, Inc. and Peiker Acustic GMBH & Co. KG entered into an agreement concerning Cellport’s technology for the hands-free use of cellphones in cars. In 2009, Cellport filed suit against Peiker, alleging breach of that agreement and sought royalties for seven Peiker products. The district court awarded Cellport royalties on only two of the products, interpreting an acknowledgment in the license agreement as "a rebuttable presumption." Cellport appealed, and Peiker filed a conditional cross-appeal. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court found that section 1.17(i) of the License Agreement created a category of products on which royalties are due regardless of whether any of Cellport’s patents were infringed; Peiker owed Cellport royalties on those products. On remand, the district court was directed to calculate the damages due Cellport for those two products. Because the district court only briefly addressed the relationship between the "BTPSC" and the "'456 Patent" the Tenth Circuit remanded to allow the district court to determine whether additional royalties were owed to Cellport. With respect to Peiker's cross-appeal, the Tenth Circuit agreed with Cellport that the issue was not ready for appellate review and further held that it was not ripe for review by the district court. View "Cellport Systems v. Peiker Acustic" on Justia Law