Inline sued Lacerta in 2018, accusing Lacerta of infringing patents relating to tamper-resistant food containers. The patents cover plastic food containers that have a tear-away portion on the lip of the base that prevents the cover from being removed without removing or tearing the tear-away portion. Earlier in the litigation, Judge Hillman granted Inline summary judgment of infringement of one of the asserted patents, with the remainder of the case going to trial.
A thirteen-day trial was held in February, and judgment was entered in May. The jury found no infringement of the remaining four patents and found all of the asserted claims invalid as anticipated, obvious, and/or failing to satisfy the written description requirement. The invalidity findings included all claims on which summary judgment of infringement had been granted.
Judge Hillman denied Lacerta’s motion for attorneys fees, however, finding the case did not rise to the “exceptional” level required by 35 U.S.C. § 2825. He noted that there was a good faith infringement theory, as exemplified by his denial of Lacerta’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement. He noted Inline’s withdrawal of 21 asserted claims mid-trial, but because all of the claims contained similar limitations, he did not feel the earlier withdrawal of these claims would have materially affected the litigation.
Inline has filed a notice of appeal, so this case may not yet be concluded.
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