Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Defendants' Statements Challenging Validity of Asserted Patents Undermine Equitable Estoppel Defense

In denying defendants' motion for summary judgment on the issue of equitable estoppel, the court found that "[g]enuine issues of material fact exist as to whether [defendants] actually relied on [plaintiff's] action (or inaction), or whether they relied on a belief that the [patents-in-suit] were invalid." Plaintiff offered evidence of several letters drafted by defendants that questioned the validity of the patents. "Defendants characterize these statements as a mere 'initial reaction of [defendant's] business people . . . including their predictable questioning of patent validity and alleged infringement.' . . . Perhaps, but Defendants’ argument is effectively an invitation for the Court to resolve a genuine issue of material fact at the summary judgment stage. Doing so would be inappropriate and premature, particularly given the fact that all reasonable inferences tilt in [plaintiff's] favor."

Lautzenhiser Technologies, LLC v. Sunrise Medical HHG, Inc., et. al., 4-07-cv-00084 (INSD November 8, 2010, Entry on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment) (Pratt, J.)

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