Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Access Masters case; issues of contempt and product re-design

The outcome of an action in which Gate Arm is the patentee and Access Masters is the entity who re-designed an accused product. Gate Arm lost a motion for contempt.

GateArm Technologies, Inc. (GateArm) owns U.S. Patent Nos. 8,845,125 and 9,157,200, both titled “Vehicle Barrier System with Illuminating Gate Arm and Method.” In 2014, GateArm sued Access Masters LLC, Blacksky Technologies, Inc., and, LLC (collectively, Access Masters) for infringing the ’125 and ’200 patents. In 2016, the parties settled the dispute, and the district court entered a consent decree based on a signed Settlement Agreement. See Order, GateArm Techs., Inc. v. Access Masters LLC, No. 0:14-cv-62697 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 29, 2016), ECF No. 53 (Consent Decree); J.A. 1634–36. Later that year, after Access Masters introduced a modified product, GateArm moved to reopen the case to obtain a finding that Access Masters was in contempt of the consent decree for marketing and selling the new product and to order such activities to cease. The magistrate judge to whom the matter was assigned recommended that GateArm’s motion for contempt be denied, and the district court adopted the recommendation. See Gatearm Techs., Inc. v. Access Masters, LLC, No. 0:14-cv-62697, 2020 WL 4923637, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Aug. 21, 2020) (District Court Order). We affirm. (...)
On April 30, 2020, the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation, advising against finding contempt. See Gatearm Techs., Inc. v. Access Masters, LLC, No. 0:14- cv-62697, 2020 WL 6808670 (S.D. Fla. Apr. 30, 2020) (Report and Recommendation). The magistrate applied the contempt standards set forth in TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., 646 F.3d 869 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (en banc). She found that GateArm had not proved the newly accused product to be “no more than colorably different” from the originally accused product, see Report and Recommendation, 2020 WL 6808670, at *16, and that Access Masters’s newly accused product does not infringe, concluding that it does not have the “terminating ends” of the “sidewalls” required by the claims of the ’125 patent, see id. at *17. The district court agreed with the magistrate judge, adopting the recommendation on August 21, 2020. See District Court Order, 2020 WL 4923637, at *1.

Of the law:
(...) Applying Eleventh Circuit law, we review a district court’s ultimate determination of contempt for an abuse of discretion. See In re Managed Care, 756 F.3d 1222, 1232 (11th Cir. 2014); Baden Sports, Inc. v. Molten USA, Inc., 556 F.3d 1300, 1304 (Fed. Cir. 2009). “‘When employing an abuse-of-discretion standard, we must affirm unless we find that the district court has made a clear error of judgment, or has applied the wrong legal standard.” Managed Care, 756 F.3d at 1232 (quoting United States v. Frazier, 387 F.3d 1244, 1259 (11th Cir. 2004) (cleaned up)).


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