Air Control Science Inc., Boulder, CO, was owned by John Fischer, a former Martin Engineering distributor, and is now part of CCC Group, of San Antonio. In the original action, Air Control Science sued Martin Engineering for patent infringement. Martin Engineering countersued, and following trial in March 2008, was awarded costs as the prevailing party.
In a follow-up ruling issued January 19, 2010, U.S. senior district court Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled all three patents asserted were unenforceable for inequitable conduct, found the case “exceptional”, and awarded Martin its attorney fees. Prior to the March 2008 trial, the court had reserved for later determination Martin Engineering’s defense and counterclaim of unenforceability of the patents due to inequitable conduct. Trial to the court of the inequitable conduct counterclaim commenced September 1, 2009 and concluded September 8, 2009.
In January 2005, Air Control Science Inc. sued Martin Engineering in Denver, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,000,533, 6,176,368 and 6,135,171, all relating to dust control systems used in the transfer of bulk material. Martin Engineering denied infringement and asserted defenses of invalidity and unenforceability due to inequitable conduct in procuring and enforcing the patents. In February 2007, Air Control Science, along with the patents in suit was acquired by CCC Group Inc., a San Antonio corporation, which was then substituted as Plaintiff. A three-week trial was conducted in U.S. District Court in Denver in March 2008. On September 17, 2008, Senior Judge Matsch ruled that the ‘533 and ‘368 patents were invalid and that Martin did not infringe the ‘171 patent. Costs were awarded to Martin Engineering as the prevailing party.
This decision, which can be reviewed at www.martin-eng.com/news, is another significant victory for Martin Engineering and its counsel, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, who were adamant in defense of this litigation.
Ed Peterson, chairman of Martin Engineering, expects the company to be awarded in excess of $4 million in litigation fees and expenses as a result of Judge Matsch’s finding of the case as “exceptional” and his strongly worded opinion of inequitable conduct.