FortLauderdale-based Realauction.com’s very existence was on the line.
A larger competitor had filed a patent infringement suit seeking $32 million in damages. If it prevailed, Realauction’s core business of providing software used by local governments to run online foreclosure and tax lien auctions would be gutted.
Pittsburgh-based Grant Street Group alleged Realauction’s online auction platforms—RealForeclose and RealTaxLien—were infringing its patent and sought a permanent injunction against Realauction.
After a two-week trial, a federal jury in Pennsylvania decided RealForeclose did not infringe, but an early version of RealTaxLien did for about 10 months before a design change was made. The jury awarded $8.1 million in damages.
Akerman partner David Brafman and intellectual property practice group chair Mark Passler submitted post-trial briefs contending the jury award was excessive for the limited infringement that had taken place. The case settled April 2, and while the terms are confidential, Brafman said Realauction is in the clear to continue serving more than 70 government agencies in Florida and five other states.
“This was an important success for the company because the lawsuit was a bet-your-company suit,” Brafman said. “Had it succeeded in obtaining an injunction against both pieces of software, it would have had severe consequences for the company because those two pieces constituted its core business.”
Realauction.com had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to post a $4.3 million cash appeal bond. But with the litigation over, Brafman expects the Chapter 11 proceedings to end shortly.
Another high point for Akerman was this is the third time the firm has prevailed against Grant Street, which Brafman described as “a very aggressive company,” in actions against Realauction.
Akerman also successfully defended Boca Raton-based luggage manufacturer Travelpro International in a patent infringement suit brought by New York-based competitor Briggs & Riley Travelware against many of Travelpro’s product lines.
Leaning on the sports adage the best defense is a strong offense, Brafman said the Akerman team identified a patent infringement by Briggs & Riley and filed suit in Florida’s Southern District. The Briggs & Riley case against Travelpro was dismissed with prejudice in December before any depositions were taken, and a confidential settlement the same month ended all litigation.
Akerman has three intellectual property litigation partners, two associates and two of counsel in South Florida, although other attorneys sometimes also handle IP litigation.