Friday, September 09, 2005

Lemelson Foundation loses appeal to Symbol: prosecution laches upheld

In this significant case, the CAFC affirmed the decision of 301 F.Supp. 2d 1147 on the basis of prosecution laches. Because the laches defense is equitable in nature, the CAFC reviewed the district court decision for abuse of discretion, citing Bridgestone, 245 F.3d 1349.

The CAFC noted it cannot be an abuse to file divisional applications, and also discussed some other issues with continuation applications. What Lemelson did was found to be an abuse.

In light of the decision on the grounds of prosecution laches, the other disputed issues were deemed moot.

From Reuters:

The patents were filed by Lemelson and date back to the 1950s. They cover methods for automatic video scanning and inspection.

Before his death in 1997, Lemelson waged a long battle to enforce the scanner patents. Although some companies fought back in court, others settled and agreed to pay to avoid litigation.

**UPDATE. Sept. 30, 2005**

Note that Symbol is not adverse to suing people over patents.

Metrologic Instruments, Inc. announced on Sept. 29, 2005 that it has been served with a complaint alleging that certain of its products infringe certain patents owned by Symbol Technologies, Inc. ("Symbol"). The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S.
District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Symbol also filed a similar complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) naming certain of Metrologic's products that were recently found by an arbitrator not to be included under the parties' existing cross license agreement. Metrologic strongly believes there is no basis for these claims. Metrologic stands firm that these products do not infringe Symbol's patents. Metrologic will vigorously defend these new allegations of patent infringement as well as pursue its ongoing claims for patent infringement and
breach of contract pending against Symbol in separate actions in the U.S. District for the District of New Jersey. Moreover, Metrologic strongly believes that Symbol's patents will be found invalid by the respective courts.


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