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Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

February 26, 2015

EAGLE HARBOR HOLDINGS, LLC, and MEDIUSTECH, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART FORD'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Ford Motor Company's ("Ford") motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 373. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On February 24, 2012, Plaintiffs Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC, and MediusTech, LLC (collectively "Medius") filed a second amended complaint alleging Ford infringes numerous patents. Dkt. 61.

On July 29, 2013, the Court-appointed Special Master, Lawrence Graham, issued an order construing disputed terms of the asserted patents. Dkt. 167. On November 13, 2013, the Court adopted that order as an order of the Court. Dkt. 184. On February 26, 2014, Ford filed a motion to strike Medius's undisclosed infringement theory. Dkt. 239. On March 17, 2013, the Court granted the motion in part and denied the motion in part and ordered further claim construction regarding the movement of applications with the system of processors. Dkt. 267. On August 8, 2014, the Special Master issued an order construing additional limitations. Dkt. 333. On September 22, 2014, the Court adopted the constructions as an order of the Court. Dkt. 345.[1]

On December 17, 2014, Ford filed the instant motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 373. Ford contends that (1) U.S. Patent No. 6, 615, 137 (the "137 Patent") is not infringed or is invalid as anticipated; (2) U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 146, 260 (the "260 Patent"), 7, 778, 739, 7, 793, 136, 8, 006, 117, 8, 006, 118, 8, 006, 119, 8, 020, 028, and 8, 027, 268 (collectively "Processor Patents") are not infringed or are invalid for lack of written description; (3) damages should be limited for failure to mark; and (4) Medius fails to submit sufficient evidence of willful infringement. Id. On January 14, 2015, Medius responded. Dkt. 404. On January 23, 2015, Ford replied. Dkt. 427.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

With regard to the 137 Patent, Medius asserts that Ford induces its customer to infringe the patent by using Ford's Active Park Assist ("APA") system. The 137 Patent discloses a collision avoidance technology. See Dkt. 404 at 16-19 (overview of technology). Ford contends that "APA is a parking assistance system that is designed to automatically steer a car into a parallel parking space." Dkt. 373 at 15. Medius asserts that Ford induces its customers to use the APA with owner's manuals and other instructive materials. Medius's expert, Dr. Paul Min, asserts that APA directly infringes the 137 Patent. Dkt. 404-3 (expert report).

With regard to the Processor Patents, Medius contends that Ford's SYNC system infringes these patents. The SYNC system is an "infotainment system... designed for simplicity, reliability, and cost-effectiveness...." Dkt. 373 at 31. Ford asserts numerous non-infringement contentions and asserts that the patents lack a proper written description of the claimed subject matter.

With regard to the marking issue, the facts are set forth in the Court's order denying Medius's motion on this issue. Dkt. 483.

With regard to willful infringement, Ford asserts that Medius has failed to support its claim as a matter of law. Dkt. 373 at 76-82. Medius responds citing numerous facts evidencing an ongoing business relationship that began in early 2001. Dkt. 404 at 68. The relationship appears to have broken down sometime in 2008. Dkt. 404-44 at 45. After that, Medius's counsel sent multiple emails to Ford alleging patent infringement. Id. at 46-48.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative evidence, not simply "some metaphysical doubt"). See also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

The determination of the existence of a material fact is often a close question. The Court must consider the substantive evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254; T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The Court must resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party only when the facts specifically attested by that party contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party. The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the claim. T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc., 809 F.2d at 630 (relying on Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Conclusory, nonspecific statements in affidavits are not sufficient, and missing facts will not be presumed. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888-89 (1990).

B. Induced Infringement

Under 35 U.S.C. ยง 271(b), "[w]hoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer." To establish liability under section 271(b), a patent holder must prove that "the alleged inducer knew of the patent, knowingly induced the infringing acts, and possessed a specific intent to encourage another's infringement of the patent." DSU Med. Corp. v. JMS Co., 471 F.3d 1293, 1304 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (en banc).

In this case, Medius asserts that Ford induces infringement of claim 29 of the 137 Patent by encouraging its customers to use Ford's APA system. The parties do not dispute Ford's knowledge of the patent. Ford, however, does dispute whether Medius has submitted evidence of Ford's specific intent to encourage its users to infringe, whether APA generates a "steering queue" as required by the patent, and, if APA does infringe, whether the patent is invalid over prior art. Dkt. 373 at 20-30.

1. Specific Intent

Evidence that a defendant "instructed its... customers about how to use [the claimed invention]... is sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether [the defendant] had the requisite specific intent to induce infringement." Advanced Software ...


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