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A federal judge has refused to overturn a jury’s verdict in a high-stakes patent lawsuit between the world’s largest makers of high-speed egg-sorting machines. In his 30-page opinion in Moba B.V. et al. v. Diamond Automation, U.S. District Judge Bruce W. Kauffman found that the jury had sufficient evidence to support its conclusion that none of the patents at issue had been violated. The ruling is a victory for a team of Pepper Hamilton lawyers who argued that Moba B.V. and Staalkat B.V. had not infringed a single patent. The stakes were high in the case because Diamond Automation, the company claiming infringement, was seeking $40 million in lost profits and penalties of up to three times that amount if the jury found the infringement was willful. The jury rejected the Pepper team’s first argument — that Diamond’s patents were invalid — but went on to find no infringement by Moba and Staalkat, two Dutch companies, or their current Dutch parent, FPS Food Processing Systems, B.V. Testimony at trial showed that for years, nearly 100 percent of the world’s market for egg sorters was split among three companies — Diamond Automation, based outside Detroit, Mich., and the two firms in the Netherlands, Moba and Staalkat, whose U.S. sales arm, FPS Food Processing Systems Inc., is located in Lancaster, Pa. Diamond dominated in the United States, enjoying an 80 percent market share, while Moba and Staalkat enjoyed an equally strong advantage over Diamond in Europe. The patent disputes began when Diamond filed a suit against Moba and Staalkat in U.S. District Court in Detroit that accused the companies of stealing aspects of Diamond’s designs for its 8300 and 8400 machines in Moba’s Omnia model and Staalkat’s Selecta model. Since the Dutch companies did no business in Michigan, they won dismissal of the suit on jurisdictional grounds. And then they won the race to court in filing their own suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for a declaratory judgment that their machines did not infringe on Diamond’s patents. Attorneys Marvin Petry and Linda R. Poteate of Larson & Taylor in Alexandria, Va., handled the litigation for the Dutch companies through the discovery phase and summary judgment. But when it became clear that the case was sure to go to trial, Petry and Poteate knew their firm’s resources would be overtaxed. They interviewed several teams of litigators and chose one led by Jon A. Baughman of Pepper Hamilton, who put together a team that included Pepper attorneys Erik N. Videlock, Nicole D. Galli, Jacqueline V. Guynn and Corin R. Stone. After the verdict, Diamond’s lawyers, Albert J. Breneisen and P. McCoy Smith of Kenyon & Kenyon in New York, filed renewed motions for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that the trial evidence clearly showed that Moba and Staalkat had not only infringed its Diamond’s patents, but had done so willfully. Now Judge Kauffman has issued an opinion that rejects the motion and holds that his original orders that decided issues of claim construction accurately framed the issues for the jury and that the jury properly decided the limited issues presented at trial. Diamond argued that Moba’s and Staalkat’s machines infringed on its patents both literally and by the doctrine of equivalents. But FPS’ witnesses testified that none of the patents at issue was infringed because the accused machines do not contain certain limitations in the asserted claims and that the resulting differences between the accused machines and the asserted claims are sufficiently substantial that they are not equivalent in function, way or result. In his opinion, Kauffman parsed out the evidence that related to each of the patents and found that, for each one, there was sufficient evidence to support a finding of no infringement. Kauffman also rejected that FPS presented evidence and argument that misconstrued the disputed claims of the patents at issue. Much of the judge’s opinion is highly technical, but for each of his rulings, he cited to testimony of specific witness. “The court … finds that the jury had substantial evidence upon which to make its findings of noninfringement of the patents in suit, including the patents themselves, the patent histories, the [court's claim construction] orders, the testimony of fact and expert witnesses, and drawings, diagrams, animations, models and videotapes of the accused machines,” Kauffman wrote.

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