Ameranth, Inc. v. Pizza Hut, Inc., et. al., 3-11-cv-01810 (CASD November 16, 2017, Order) (Sabraw, USDJ)
Monday, November 20, 2017
Counsel's Ethical Wall Does Not Establish Intent to Deceive For Inequitable Conduct Defense
The court denied plaintiff's motion for summary judgment that defendant's patent was unenforceable due to inequitable conduct because plaintiff failed to establish an intent to deceive through prosecution counsel's use of an ethical wall. "[Plaintiff] cites to numerous pieces of evidence to support its arguments, including the ethical wall put in place at [defendant's prosecution counsel]. [Plaintiff] implies that ethical wall 'demonstrates an intent to deceive the PTO and supports a finding of inequitable conduct rendering the [patent-in-suit] unenforceable.' However, [defendant] offers an equally plausible inference from the ethical wall, which is that [counsel] was simply trying 'to preclude exchange of information between attorneys representing [a third party represented by defense counsel] and [defendant][.]' Much of the other evidence [plaintiff] relies on is likewise susceptible to more than one reasonable inference, which precludes summary judgment in [plaintiff's] favor."