Vehicle Operations Technologies LLC v. Ford Motor Company, et al.C.A. Nos. 13-539-RGA;Vehicle Operations Technologies LLC v. Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., 13-712-RGA, July 1, 2015

Andrews, J. Defendants’ motion to declare cases exceptional is granted; motion to join additional parties is denied.

The patent-in-suit relates to a vehicle operation display system.  Certain defendants had earlier moved for Rule 11 sanctions, and an early Markman hearing was held to determine whether the display must be dedicated. Defendants argued that the applicants disclaimed non-dedicated displays and plaintiff argued there was no disclaimer.  The court found that the inventor repeatedly and unambiguously disclaimed the plain reading of the term “display.”  The case was dismissed on September 12, 2014 as a sanction for failure to conduct an objectively reasonable pre-suit investigation.  Monetary sanctions were not granted at the time due to a procedural defect. Two defendants subsequently moved the court to find the case exceptional under §285.  Plaintiff argued that the court should not penalize a represented party for relying on advice of counsel, but could not cite any cases supporting that proposition. The filing and maintaining of an infringement suit which patentee knows or on reasonable investigation should have known is baseless constitutes grounds for declaring a case exceptional.  Defendants will submit proposed fees.