Judge Keith Ellison issued a scathing order dismissing a patent case after it had been tried to verdict. Tesco Corp. v. Weatherford Int’l., Inc. (S.D. Tex. Aug. 25, 2014). Four days into a three-week trial over infringement of some patents relating to drilling rig equipment, an inventor testified that a brochure that constituted 102(b) prior art showed his invention. The following day, a Friday, patentee’s counsel told the court he would spend the weekend getting to the bottom of the facts about it (there was even a dispute over whether the brochure had been produced to the defendants).
Come Monday, the patentee’s lawyer said that the brochure had been rendered by someone else, Karr, not the inventor and that Karr would unequivocally, no doubt, for sure, and so on say that it was not the inventor’s device. Trial proceeded. There was a mixed and inconsistent verdict rendered by the jury. Rather than enter judgment, Judge Ellison let the case proceed to other issues.
After trial during discovery relating to exceptional case and inequitable conduct, Karr testified that he had had nothing to do with the brochure and that everything the patentee’s counsel had said was false.
The defendants, not surprisingly, moved for sanctions. Making matters worse, in opposition to those motions, the patentee’s counsel quoted portions of the deposition excerpts that, Judge Ellison felt, were at best misleading.
In this order, the judge dismissed the claims with prejudice, holding that nothing less would protect the judicial system. It then invited motions for attorneys’ fees to be submitted. Stay tuned.