New Medium v. Barco (N.D. Ill. 2009)
Seventh Circuit Appellate Judge Richard Posner heard this case sitting by designation in the Northern District of Illinois. The final judgment is interesting in relation to the Federal Circuit’s recent refusal to vacate the district court’s opinion after the PTO retreated in Tafas v. Dudas.
In a 2008 decision, Judge Posner held New Medium’s asserted patents unenforceable due to inequitable conduct during ex parte reexamination of the patents. Notably, Judge Posner found that the inventor/owner Carl Cooper had made false statements to the PTO regarding his association with the expert who had submitted declarations in the reexamination. Notably, in his declaration to the PTO, Mr. Cooper stated that he had “never met or talked with any of these experts” prior to contacting them to submit reports. Judge Posner found that statement “false” since Cooper had solicited and paid for a bid from one of the experts (Klughart) seven years prior. Judge Posner also found that Cooper and Klughart’s testimony about forgetfulness difficult to believe: “I conclude that Klughart is not neutral and that his forgetfulness may be strategic. . . . Cooper testified that when he submitted his report in August of 2001 he had forgotten his prior dealings with Klughart. I do not believe that testimony. . . . I am also disturbed by the statement in Cooper’s brief that ‘Mr. Cooper didn’t think his past contact with Dr. Klughart was ‘material’ and that’s why he didn’t disclose it.’ That is an admission that Cooper lied in his declaration, though I imagine it [the admission] is unintended.”
Following Judge Posner’s decision, the parties decided to settle the case. As part of the settlement, Judge Posner issued an order vacating its prior inequitable conduct decision: “By agreement of the parties, the Court vacates its Order of October 16, 2008 (Docket 857) declaring United States Patents Nos. 5,424,780 and 6,529,637 unenforceable.”
Elimination of the inequitable conduct decision allows Cooper to continue to assert the patent. Ongoing defendants include Microsoft and Vizio. (See IP Innovation LLC v. Vizio, 08-cv-00393 (N.D. Ill.))