Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Evidence of patent infringement settlement agreement in another case, for another patent, is not relevant.

Alps South is suing The Ohio Willow Wood Company for allegedly infringing U.S. Patents 6,552,109 and 6,867,253 each generally directed to gel products which are apparently used in prosthetic products. Ohio Willow is suing another company in Texas for infringing one of its patents -- U.S. Patent 7,291,182 directed to a cushion liner for enclosing an amputation stump.

Alps believes that Ohio Willow settled its litigation in Texas, and wanted a copy of the settlement agreement. Indeed, the Texas litigation had proceeded to the Federal Circuit on appeal, after the defendant there won summary judgment that the asserted claims of the '182 patent were obvious. Ohio Willow had filed its appeal brief, and Alps had filed an amicus brief in that appeal. But the defendant in that case did not file its answer brief, leading Alps to conclude that the case had settled. Additionally, Alps and Ohio Willow are fighting over the '182 patent in yet another case (but that case is stayed pending reexamination of the patent).

Ohio Willow did not concede that the other litigation had settled. It then argued that the sought after information (if it existed) was not relevant to the present dispute. The Court agreed with Ohio Willow:
Although Alps argues that the '182 patent at issue in the Texas case is "directly relevant" to the '109 and '253 patents at issue in this case, I find that Alps has only shown that the '182 patent is one of a myriad of patents owned by OWW relating to prosthetic products that use a gel and substrate liner issued by Bruce G. Kania....I find the relationship between the '182 patent at issue in the Texas case too tenuous to be considered relevant to this litigation, and that Alps has not demonstrated that the sought-after information is admissible at trial, or that it is likely to lead to the discovery of admissible information.
The Court also held that if such agreement existed, it would not be discoverable because of the strong federal policy favoring the confidentiality of settlement agreements.

Motion to compel denied.

Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Co., Case No. 8:08-cv-01893, slip op. (Nov. 19, 2010) (Mag. Pizzo)

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