Law, Manufacturing, and Technology

Law firm wins patent-infringement case

October 8, 2014
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Douglas Dozeman. Courtesy Warner Norcross + Judd

A local law firm’s team of patent attorneys recently convinced a federal jury that their clients did not infringe on a patent covering automated inspection equipment.

In 2011, Linear Group in Clawson developed new automatic sorting equipment for the fastener industry, which fastener manufacturer ND Industries began utilizing.

Attica Automation, which has also developed automated inspection equipment for the fastener industry, filed a lawsuit in 2013 against both companies, which alleged Linear had copied patented technology in developing its new automatic sorting equipment.

Douglas Dozeman and James Moskal of Warner Norcross & Judd in Grand Rapids led the litigation team in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan, arguing that Linear had developed a new and better machine that used technology substantially different from Attica.

The Linear machine adopted a new approach, removing the “good parts” from the line and allowing “bad parts” to continue on into a reject bin. Previous systems, including the method covered by Attica’s patent, had removed the “bad parts” from the line.

Jim DeFillipi, director of engineering at Linear, said the advantage of the Linear approach is in case of a failure; the Linear machine had the potential to lose only a single good part. This is in contrast to older systems, where a failure would result in contaminating the “good parts” and potentially lead to catastrophic results.

The jury found no evidence of patent infringement after a one-week trial before the Hon. Gershwin Drain in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“We were incredibly pleased to secure vindication for our clients, Linear and ND Industries,” Dozeman said. “Our clients had maintained, and we were able to demonstrate to the jury, that Linear’s equipment design was significantly different from that of the plaintiff and did not infringe on its patent in any way.” 

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