A U.S. District Court in Los Angeles denied a motion to stay patent litigation brought by Signal IP Inc., a unit of Marathon Patent Group (MARA) against Mazda Motor of North America and about a dozen other car companies, pending the outcome of a number of petitions for inter partes review and ex parte reexaminations before the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeals Board.
The motion was sought by Volkswagon Group of America.
The case — Signal IP Inc. v. Mazda Motor of America Inc. et al — was filed in May 2014 in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California before Judge John Kronstadt
The complaint alleged infringement of patents for methods of improving zone of coverage response of automotive radar, occupant detection method and apparatus for air bag systems, method and control system for controlling propulsion in a hybrid vehicle and technique for limiting the range of an object sensing system in a vehicle.
The patents at issue were acquired by Marathon from Delphi Automotive PLC, which in turn had acquired some from its predecessor Delco Electronics. The patents were issued from 1995 to 2004.
The ruling by Judge Kronstadt means the cases against Volkswagen and the other car companies will proceed.
"Importantly, not only does this motion denying the stay apply to all the defendants in the California cases who may have sought a stay, but it clears the way to a speedy trial schedule," Croxall said in a statement today. "We anticipate the Court will issue its litigation and trial schedule imminently and expect trials to begin in early 2016."
Shares of Marathon gained 2.3% or 11 cents to $4.95 in midday trading on the Nasdaq. They’ve traded between $4.05 and $9.73 over the past year.
In a related development, Signal IP agreed to stipulate that certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,775,601, 5,732,375 and 6,012,007 at issue in the infringement suits were invalid following Judge Kronstadt’s claims construction ruling.
Signal IP has so far reached settlements with only Volvo Cars of North America and Jaguar Land Rover North America. Signal IP received only $275,000 from Volvo, which was only 2% of the $13 million to $14 million originally sought. The amount of the Jaguar settlement has not been disclosed.
The remaining defendants and amount in initial damages Signal IP was originally seeking in the complaint were: American Honda Motor Co.($201 million to $223 million), Kia Motors America ($133 million to $148 million), Mazda ($63 million to $70 million), Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. ($6 million to $7 million), Nissan North America ($151 million to $167 million), Subaru of America ($28 million to $31 million), Chrysler Group LLC ($154 million to $170 million), Ford Motor Co. ($304 million to $336 million), Mercedes-Benz USA LLC ($120 million to $133 million), BMW of North America ($104 million to $115 million), Volkswagen ($132 million to $146 million) and Porsche Cars North America ($23 million to $25 million).
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