Judge Rules That Xerox And Toshiba Cannot Duck New IP Lawsuit

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Judge Rules That Xerox And Toshiba Cannot Duck New IP Lawsuit

 user 2014-04-10 at 11:27:08 am Views: 214
  • #31889

    Judge Rules That Xerox And Toshiba Cannot Duck  New IP Lawsuit
     By Michael Lipkin
    Law360, Los Angeles — A Delaware federal judge on Tuesday refused to toss nearly a dozen suits brought by a computer engineer against Xerox Corp., Toshiba America Inc. and others alleging the companies infringed his company’s patented data storage system, ruling the patent’s chain of title was sufficiently clear.
    U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson found that though decades-long history of the patent rights’ ownership was muddled, much of that was because of the noncorporate nature of the inventors.

    Kenneth Conner, along with three others, invented the patent and through a series of steps eventually transferred the patent to a company he founded with Peter King, according to the opinion. The inventors were not affiliated with any corporate employers when they created the storage system, Jude Robinson found.

    “As a consequence, the efforts of these individuals to monetize their invention though yet another individual can be charitably characterized as less than sophisticated,” the opinion said.

    The opinion denied motions to dismiss from Xerox, Toshiba, Intuit Inc., EMC Corp., Zoho Corp., Alfresco Software Ltd., Dassault Systemes Solidworks Corp., Thomson Reuters Corp., Wolter Kluwer US Corp., Egnyte Inc. and Perforce Software Inc.

    The suits, filed by Conner’s Data Speed Technology LLC, all claim that Conner is a "lifelong computer engineer" who invented a system for allowing multiple computers to each read and write on a shared mass storage device without causing conflicts, like two computers trying to use the same chunk of digital space at the same time.

    The separate complaints claim that each defendant company is infringing the patent by selling information management products or services, including Intuit Quickbase, Zoho Docs, Xerox DocuShare and EMC Documentum.

    The defendants claimed that Data Speed lacked standing to sue because it had not shown it owned all of the patent’s rights. Several assignment agreements and a settlement in an ownership dispute resulted in King owning the patent application, according to the opinion. King had lent Data Speed money using the patent as collateral, and under an agreement, King would return the assignment if Data Speed paid back the loan.

    Conner and Data Speed never paid back the loan, according to the opinion, so the patent interest was transferred to a trust when King died, which later sold Conner the patent interest. Conner later sold the patent to Data Speed through a two-step transaction, the opinion said.

    Despite the complicated ownership history, Judge Robinson ruled that she was “satisfied that, for the purposed of the pending motions to dismiss, [Data Speed] has provided sufficient evidence of the chain of title.”

    Representatives for the parties did not immediately respond Tuesday to requests for comment.

    The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent Number 5,867,686.

    Data Speed Technology is represented by Bayard PA.

    The defendants are represented by Morris Nichols Arshy & Tunnell LLP, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP and Ballard Spahr LLP, among others.

    The cases are Data Speed Technology LLC v. EMC Corp., case number 1:13-cv-00616; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Xerox Corp., case number 1:13-cv-00624; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Zoho Corp., case number 1:13-cv-00625; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Toshiba America  Inc., case number 1:13-cv-01052; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Alfresco Software Ltd. et al., case number 1:13-cv-01443; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Dassault Systemes Solidworks Corp., case number 1:13-cv-001447; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Thomson Reuters Corp. et al., case number 1:13-cv-01450; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Wolters Kluwer US Corp., case number 1:13-cv-01452; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Egnyte Inc., case number 1:14-cv-00033; Data Speed Technology LLC v. Intuit Inc., case number 1:14-cv-00034; and Data Speed Technology LLC v. Perforce Software Inc., case number 1:14-cv-00036, all in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

    –Additional reporting by Bill Donahue. Editing by Chris Yates.