Articles Posted in Declaratory Judgments

This case, originally filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on claims of patent infringement, was brought on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee, Ford Global Technologies, LLC (“Ford”), and against Plaintiff-Appellant, Automotive Body Parts Association (“Automotive”). The originally sealed opinion was issued on July 11, 2019 but was unsealed in full on July 23, 2019.

Ford owns U.S. Patent No. D489,299 (the “D’299 Patent”) and U.S. Patent No. D501,685 (the “D’685 Patent”) for “Exterior of Vehicle Hood”Ford-BlogPhoto-300x138 and “Vehicle Head Lamp”, respectively. These design patents were invented by artists that allegedly selected part designs for the Ford F-150 truck on based on aesthetic appearance alone and not a functional purpose. Automotive is comprised of a group of companies that distribute automotive parts.

Conflict between Automotive and Ford allegedly occurred when Ford accused several Automotive members of infringing the D’299 and D’685 Patents, among others, before the International Trade Commission (“ITC”). The administrative law judge in the ITC proceedings ruled that “‘respondents’ [invalidity] defense that the asserted patents do not comply with the ornamentality requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 171 has no basis in the law’ and that ‘there is no legal basis for respondents’ assertion of [unenforceability based on] either the patent exhaustion or permissible repair doctrines’”. The ITC action settled after the administrative law judge’s ruling.

Kosciusko County, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Rick C. Sasso, M.D. (“Dr. Sasso”) of Carmel, Indiana, originally filed suit in the Kosciusko County Superior Court in Indiana alleging that Defendants, Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc., Medtronic, PLC, and Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., haveSassoBlogPhoto-266x300 denied him and his accounting firm access to their sales ledger per two separate agreements. Dr. Sasso is seeking an injunction ordering Defendants to provide full access to its sales ledger to determine royalties owed to Dr. Sasso under two separate agreements. As of April 12, 2019, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to remove the case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Per the complaint, Dr. Sasso is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in the treatment of the spine. Dr. Sasso claims the Defendants, together, are top manufacturers for spine implants. It is claimed Dr. Sasso entered into two separate agreements with Sofamor Danek Holding, Inc., which was later acquired by Warsaw Orthopedic through a merger. The first alleged agreement, is the 1999 Screw Delivery System Agreement on November 18, 1999 (the “1999 Agreement”). The second alleged agreement is the 2001 Vertex Agreement, entered into on July 26, 2001 (the “2001 Agreement”). Dr. Sasso claims that these agreements have clauses that enable him to “inspect, examine, audit, and copy [Defendants’] records” relating to the agreements once per calendar year.

In August 2013, Dr. Sasso filed a different suit against the Defendants for unpaid royalties under both the 1999 and 2001 Agreements. Dr. Sasso was granted royalties in the amount of $79,794,721.00 for the 1999 Agreement and $32,657,548.00 for the 2001 Agreement, which has been appealed by Defendants. According to the complaint, the 1999 Agreement requires the Defendants to continue paying royalties until the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 6,287,313 and U.S. Patent No. 6,562,046, on or about November 23, 2019. Dr. Sasso also claims the 2001 Agreement requires Defendants to pay royalties to him so long as “the Medical Device is covered by a valid claim of an issued patent arising out of the Intellectual Property Rights.”

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Engineered by Schildmeier, LLC of Anderson, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Amazing Parts Warehouse (d/b/a several different names) of Lexington, Kentucky, and Wuhn Xuelang Auto Parts Co., Ltd. of China, infringed its rights in United States Patent No. D 816,584 (“the ‘584 Patent”) for a “Pair of Bed Rail StakeBlogPhoto-300x225 Pocket Covers”. Plaintiff is seeking judgment including damages, pre and post-judgment interests and costs.

Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have been offering to sell products on Amazon, eBay, and other various sites since February 2018. Amazon has taken down the advertisements when shown the ‘584 Patent. After a bit of time, Amazing Parts Warehouse then re-advertises the same product under a different dba. Amazon removes the new advertisements as they are reported and the cycle repeats almost monthly. The advertisements on eBay have not been removed as eBay refuses to act on validity of patents without Court direction. Plaintiff continues to send Cease and Desist letters to Defendants through Amazon and eBay as well as contact with their websites and the U.S. Postal Service.

Count I of the Complaint asserts federal patent infringement as the Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ bed rail stake pocket covers are as they claim, not only identical, but substantially the same leading to customer confusion. Count II claims trade dress infringement in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). The third count seeks declaratory judgment of both the design patent and trade dress validity. Next, Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment of infringement and validity of trade dress. The final count asserts unfair competition under Indiana state law. Plaintiff claims that they have lost nearly $100,000 in lost profits since the Defendants began selling their counterfeit products in February and they continue to lose a minimum of $3,000 in profits per week.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana for a declaratory judgment against Defendant, Adocia S.A. of Lyon, France, who is claiming inventorship and ownership rights inLilly-v-Adocia-photo-300x170 Lilly’s United States Patent No. 9,901,623 B2 (“the ‘623 Patent”) for “Rapid-Acting Insulin Compositions”, and United States Patent No. 9,993,555 B2 (“the ‘555 Patent”) for “Rapid-Acting Insulin Compositions”. Plaintiff is seeking declaratory judgment, attorneys’ fees and costs, and further relief the Court determines to be just and proper.

Lilly began its research that led to the ‘623 and ‘555 Patents at least as early as 2011. Right around that same time, Lilly and Adocia began negotiating an agreement to develop an ultra-rapid insulin “URI” formulation using Adocia’s BioChaperone® technology. Adocia and Lilly entered into a collaborative research and license agreement on December 13, 2011. The two companies signed a confidentiality agreement on November 21, 2012. By July 2013, the original agreement was terminated.

The Parties entered into a second confidentiality agreement on December 16, 2013 and a second collaborative research and license agreement on December 18, 2014 using different BioChaperone® molecules than the first agreement. The second research collaborative continued until January 2017. While Lilly was a part of the research collaborative, they were also running a separate internal program to develop a URI with specific concentrations of citrate for a more rapid time action profile and specific excipients to maintain the stability for the composition. Unlike this research, the collaborative research focused only on URI products containing BioChaperone® molecules. The separate internal research led to the ‘623 Patent issuing on February 27, 2018 and the ‘555 Patent issuing on June 12, 2018.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Veridus Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana for a declaratory judgment against Defendant, Strategic IP Information Pte Ltd. (“SIP-IP”) of Irvine, California, that Veridus Group has not infringed SIP-IP’s rights in United States TrademarkBlogphoto Registration No. 5,294,263 for the mark VERI-SITE. Plaintiff is seeking declaration and judgment, damages, attorney’s fees, costs, and any other relief the Court may deem appropriate.

This case arose after the Defendant sent the Plaintiff a cease and desist letter alleging that Veridus Group was infringing on their federal trademark. SIP-IP provides internet and brand management services, which include certification systems to “help ad networks and publishers identify website hosting content without authorization.” Veridus Group runs a site certification program designed to help professional property developers mitigate risk and to help end-users in increasing the speed to market and improving the value and marketability of a site or building. They utilize the mark VERISITE for marketing and sales purposes related to their site certification services and related goods.

Veridus Group claims that the Defendant does not have an exclusive right over the word “VERISITE” in connection with Plaintiff’s business activities as they are significantly different from those of SIP-IP. Further, Plaintiff alleges that even if Defendant did have exclusive ownership in this manner, the services and goods are marketed in such different channels of trade and with both companies working with sophisticated purchasers, there is not a likelihood of confusion for the origin of the services and/or goods. As there is an actual case and controversy as to whether Plaintiff is infringing Defendant’s mark in violation of the Lanham Act and as to whether the Plaintiff engaged in unfair competition at the federal or state common law level, Plaintiff is seeking a declaration of the rights of the parties in connection with the mark VERISITE.

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2016-03-17-blogphotoIndianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Eli Lilly and Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Actavis LLC of Parsippany, New Jersey; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA of North Wales, Pennsylvania; and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. of Petach Tikva, Israel infringed its rights in United States Patent No. 7,772,209 (“the ’209 patent”) for “Antifolate Combination Therapies”. Plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief, declaratory judgment, and damages including costs and attorneys’ fees.

Eli Lilly and Teva have been involved in numerous patent infringement lawsuits against each other in the past. In April, Eli Lilly sued Teva on a claim of patent infringement of the same drug involved in this case, Alimta. This new complaint is based on a filing by Defendant with the FDA “seeking approval to manufacture and sell its Pemetrexed Injection Concentrate.”

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Home Care Providers, Inc. and Dr. Dev A. Brar, of Indianapolis, Indiana filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana against Defendant, Shawn R. Bashore, of Carmel, Indiana. This suit was filed for inventorship of the United States Patent No. 9,668,328 (“the ‘328 Patent”), Night-Light2017-11-07-BlogPhoto-300x189 and Alert System, for constructive fraud, and conversion of the patent. Plaintiff is seeking declaratory judgment, lost profits, and reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.

The ‘328 Patent is for a system including a mat and a wirelessly-connected light, the purpose of which is to allow an individual to rise from bed and turn on the lights by stepping on the mat.

According to the complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant, while overseeing development of the invention, represented himself as a co-inventor on the patent application, which violated provisions of the employment agreement requiring that all material created would belong to Plaintiff. Further, according to the complaint, Defendant has attempted to profit from licensing the invention.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Uniloc, has targeted Binatone of Carmel, Indiana in its latest patent infringement suit.

Uniloc has been called a “Patent Troll in Chief” by engadget.com, and justia.com reports that it is a party to at least 343 patent cases.  In just October of 2017, Uniloc has filed 17 patent infringement lawsuits. While most of Uniloc’s lawsuits have been filed in the patent-infringement-plaintiff-friendly State of Texas, the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in the TC Heartland case limits the venues for patent infringement cases.  This likely forced Uniloc to file this suit in Indiana where Binatone is located.

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Uniloc USA, Inc. of Plano Texas, and Uniloc Luxembourg S.A filed their suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Exclusive Group LLC d/b/a/ Binatone North America, of Carmel, Indiana infringed on the U.S. Patent No. 6,216,158, System and Method Using a Palm Sized Computer to Control Network Devices (the ‘158 patent). Plaintiff is seeking declaratory judgment of infringement, damages suffered as a result of the infringement, and attorneys’ fees.

Plaintiffs Uniloc USA, as exclusive licensee of the ‘158 patent, and Uniloc Luxembourg, as owner and assignee of the ‘158 patent, filed suit alleging that a wide range of Binatone’s wireless products, such as wireless baby monitors, infringe the patent. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that Motorola’s products infringe the patent by performing the same functions that are covered under the patent; specifically, remotely controlling a wireless device over a wireless connection, using wireless commands to control the other device, and wireless control of the second device by the first device.

Plaintiffs also allege in their complaint that the Defendant indirectly infringes the patent by providing instructional videos, brochures, etc. for each product, explaining to customers how to operate the products.

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South Bend, Indiana – Stump Printing Co., Inc., also known as Shindigz, of South Whitley, Indiana filed a patent lawsuit in the Northern Shindigz-300x126District of Indiana seeking declaratory judgment of noninfringement.

Defendant in the litigation is Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC (“ECT”) of Boynton Beach, Florida, which claims to be the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,373,261; 7,876,239 and 7,319,414.  These patents were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In February 2017, ECT sent a letter to Shindigz claiming that Shindigz’s “order confirmation” and “shipping confirmation” systems “infringe claims of the ECT Patents.” The letter demanded that Shindigz pay a fee of $30,000 to license the use of those systems.

In response, Indiana patent lawyers for plaintiff filed this lawsuit asking the court to find the ECT patents ineligible for patenting, not infringed, and invalid.  The complaint accuses ECT of being a “patent troll,” stating that the company makes a practice of “calibrating the amount of [its] settlement demands to be lower than the perceived cost of litigation, to try to ensure that practicing entities settle rather than pursue challenges to the eligibility of validity of the patents through dispositive motions or trial.”  The complaint also asserts that ECT and predecessor in interest Eclipse IP have filed approximately 250 patent lawsuits since 2011.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, costs and attorneys’ fees as well as two counts of declaratory judgment:

  • Count I: Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement

Count II: Declaratory Judgment of Invalidity

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Huber-2-300x224New Albany, IndianaHuber Orchards, Inc. of Borden, Indiana filed a trademark lawsuit in the Southern District of Indiana.  Defendants in the litigation are C. Mondavi & Family (“CMF”) and C. Mondavi & Sons, Inc., both of St. Helena, California.  Huber filed the lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment that its mark “Huber Winery Generations Indiana Red Wine” does not infringe Defendants’ trademark.

Both Plaintiff and Defendants produce and offer wine products.  In February 2017, CMF sent a cease and desist letter to the president of Huber stating that CMF owns a federally registered trademark for GENERATIONS for wine.  This trademark has been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as U.S. Reg. No. 2,236,517.

In the letter, sent to Huber by a trademark lawyer for Defendants, CMF asserts that Huber’s use of the word “Generations” in conjunction with the sale of wine violates the Lanham Act by infringing and diluting CMF’s trademark.  The letter demanded that Huber cease all use of the trademark GENERATIONS in connection with its Huber Winery Generation Indiana Red blend wines.  CMF further contended that Huber is liable for injunctive relief, damages, possible treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

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Huber contends that it began selling its “Huber Winery Generations Indiana Red Wine” line locally in 1997, two years before CMF registered its trademark, and that it began selling the wine on the internet in 2004.  It further asserts that its use of its “Huber Winery Generations” common law trademark does not infringe any trademark in which CMF has right because there is no likelihood of confusion.  It asks the court to declare that Huber’s use of “Generations” and “Huber Winery Generations” do not infringe CMF’s GENERATIONS trademark.

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