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Tdata Inc. v. Aircraft Technical Publishers

February 6, 2007

TDATA INC. PLAINTIFF,
v.
AIRCRAFT TECHNICAL PUBLISHERS, DEFENDANT.
AIRCRAFT TECHNICAL PUBLISHERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TDATA INC. DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Gregory L. Frost

Magistrate Judge Terence P. Kemp

OPINION AND ORDER

These consolidated cases are before the Court for consideration of a motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 212) filed by Tdata Incorporated ("Tdata"), a memorandum in opposition (Doc. # 219) filed by Aircraft Technical Publishers ("ATP"), and a reply memorandum (Doc. # 227) filed by Tdata.*fn1 Also before the Court is a cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. # 219) filed by ATP, a memorandum in opposition (Doc. # 230) filed by Tdata, and a reply memorandum (Doc. # 235) filed by ATP. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Tdata's motion and GRANTS ATP's motion.

I. Background

Tdata Incorporated ("Tdata") is a company that produces and sells a software product called "Iapproach," which is a resource used for managing aircraft maintenance and repair. Aircraft Technical Publishers ("ATP") is the holder of three patents that are involved in the patent aspect of these two consolidated cases. The companies became embroiled in a dispute over these patents, and on March 27, 2003, Tdata filed case No. 2:03-cv-264 in this Court, seeking to invalidate two of the patents. ATP filed a counterclaim asserting infringement of these same patents.

Various procedural developments ensued while ATP proceeded to file a second action--this one targeting the remaining third patent--in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. By then, the parties' dispute also encompassed alleged trademark infringement by Tdata. Following much procedural maneuvering both in this Court and in the Northern District of California, which included an order of transfer that created case No. 2:04-cv-1072, both actions were eventually consolidated on this Court's docket before the undersigned judge.

In an effort to clarify and focus these proceedings, the Court permitted ATP to file an Amended Complaint on December 7, 2004. (Doc. # 60.) That amended pleading asserted four claims: willful patent infringement, patent infringement, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. (Doc. # 60, at 5-11.) Tdata in turn filed a January 6, 2005 answer containing two counterclaims, the first of which asks for declaratory relief, while the second counterclaim asserts an antitrust violation asserting that ATP had violated antitrust laws by attempting to unlawfully restrain trade, by attempting to fix prices, and by attempting to enforce an invalid patent in an effort to create a monopoly. (Doc. # 66 ¶¶ 40-46.) ATP filed a reply to the counterclaims on January 21, 2005. (Doc. # 70.) The consolidated actions thus present three basic causes of action: patent infringement, trademark infringement, and antitrust.*fn2

On March 3, 2006, Tdata filed for summary judgment on the patent issues on the grounds that ATP had engaged in inequitable conduct that renders its patents unenforceable. (Doc. # 212.) ATP opposes the motion and has filed its own motion for summary judgment on Tdata's prior art-inequitable conduct defense. (Doc. # 219.) The Court previously addressed a related motion to strike (Doc. # 222) in a February 5, 2007 Opinion and Order (Doc. # 266), and the fully briefed summary judgment motions are ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Standard Involved

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The Court may therefore grant a motion for summary judgment if the nonmoving party who has the burden of proof at trial fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element that is essential to that party's case. See Muncie Power Products, Inc. v. United Tech. Auto., Inc., 328 F.3d 870, 873 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)).

In viewing the evidence, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, who must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)); Hamad v. Woodcrest Condo. Ass'n, 328 F.3d 224, 234 (6th Cir. 2003). A genuine issue of material fact exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Muncie, 328 F.3d at 873 (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). Consequently, the central issue is " 'whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.' " Hamad, 328 F.3d at 234-35 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52).

B. Analysis

In a February 5, 2007 Opinion and Order, this Court held that Tdata had violated a discovery order issued by the Magistrate Judge. (Doc. # 266.) Consequently, the Court imposed a necessary sanction that included both the striking of all references to the European prior art in Tdata's summary judgment motion and supporting memoranda and an order that "Tdata cannot rely in this litigation on the undisclosed European prior art." (Doc. # 266, at 8.) This decision effectively decides Tdata's summary judgment motion, which is based on the alleged intentional concealment of the prior art targeted by the sanction. The Court has reviewed Tdata's summary judgment filings at length and has found no ...


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