December 02, 2008

Firm Wins Summary Judgment and Rule 11 Sanctions for LG Electronics and Pantech in Patent Infringement Case

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois has granted summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of our clients LG Electronics and Pantech, and has ordered the plaintiff and its counsel to pay our clients’ attorneys’ fees and costs as sanctions. On motions filed on behalf of our clients and then joined by defendant Disney Mobile, Judge Michael Mihm dismissed the patent infringement claims, and awarded LG and Pantech their attorneys' fees and costs as sanctions under Rule 11 against both plaintiff Triune Star, Inc. and its lawyers, calling plaintiff’s claims “legally frivolous.”

Triune filed a lawsuit in September 2007, asserting that LG’s and Pantech’s mobile camera phones infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,122,521, for a “Telecommunications Locating System.” The suit also named Disney Mobile as a defendant because its mobile phone program used the LG and Pantech phones. Representing LG and Pantech, the Drinker Biddle team streamlined the case and filed an early dispositive motion for summary judgment of noninfringement, pointing out that all of the claims under the patent require a “miniature infrared camera” and there is no reasonable basis to argue that the conventional cameras in LG’s and Pantech’s mobile phones are “infrared cameras.” Our team also filed a motion for Rule 11 sanctions, arguing that Triune and its lawyers had brought a frivolous lawsuit against our clients.

Judge Mihm granted both motions Nov. 25, 2008, agreeing with LG and Pantech that Triune’s interpretation of the patent “is legally frivolous and essentially attempts to read the word ‘infra-red’ out of the claims.” Triune had conceded that none of the cell phones at issue used infrared light, according to Judge Mihm, who wrote that Triune’s arguments that the LG and Pantech phones infringed on Triune’s patent did not “pass the red face test.” As a sanction against both plaintiff and plaintiff’s counsel for bringing the frivolous case, Judge Mihm awarded LG and Pantech their attorneys' fees and costs. The judge also noted that the fact that plaintiff’s counsel had represented the patentee in the Patent Office and was personally involved in adding the “infrared camera” language to the claims of the asserted patent, “negates any reasonable suggestion that Triune’s position was merely erroneous rather than frivolous.” The exact amount of the sanctions award will be determined in the near future.

The Drinker Biddle team consisted of partners Brian Rupp and Patrick Kelleher, and associates Jasmine Patel and David Moorhead, resident in the Chicago office.

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