Court Revives Patent Fight Over Manhole Cover Sealant

Court Revives Patent Fight Over Manhole Cover Sealant Petey21/ Wikimedia Commons

Jones Day has helped client Stopaq BV revive a patent case over manhole cover sealant—that’s right, manhole cover sealant.

In a decision issued on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Stopaq should be allowed to go to trial on claims that rival Amcorr Products and Services Inc. infringed on its manhole cover sealant patents. The ruling reverses U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston, who dismissed Stopaq’s patent infringement claims on summary judgment in January 2013.

Stopaq and Amcorr both sell coating materials used to protect manhole covers from corrosion. Perhaps not the most glamorous business in the world, manhole cover sealant nonetheless drew the likes of in-demand IP litigator Greg Castanias of Jones Day for Stopaq. Amcorr hired a high-powered law firm of its own: Winston & Strawn. The case was brought against Amcorr in 2010; the patent at issue covers a chemical formula used in sealants.

Hughes sided with Amcorr and dismissed Stopaq’s infringement claims based on her claim construction ruling, setting the stage for an oral argument last year. Stopaq’s trial lawyer, Joe Beauchamp of Jones Day’s Houston office, stepped aside to let Castanias handle the argument. Castanias is best known for arguing Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc., a U.S. Supreme Court case that focused on the more high-profile issue of whether human genes are patentable. John Kerville of Winston & Strawn made the case for Amcorr.

In Friday’s decision, the Federal Circuit ruled that Hughes had taken too narrow a view of what sort of chemical compounds infringe Stopaq’s patent. The case will now be remanded to Hughes, who will presumably schedule a trial date.

Practice Area(s):