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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit rules in patent dispute today

In Jennings v. Auto Meter, et al. (SD Ind., William T. Lawrence, Magistrate Judge), a 17-page opinion, Judge Wood begins her opinion:

Plaintiff Douglas M. Jennings designed an aftermarket dashboard bezel—that is, a molded shape that fits over an automobile’s instrument panel. Hoping to make money from his design through manufacturing and selling his bezels in the auto parts aftermarket and to forestall copycats, Jennings applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) for a patent. As part of her review of Jennings’s application, the patent Examiner contacted defendants Auto Meter Products, Inc. (“Auto Meter”), Gauge Works, LLC (“Gauge Works”), and Gregory Day to inquire whether the bezel they were selling was on sale or publicly available before Jennings applied for his patent. Jennings believes that the defendants, in response to the Examiner’s inquiries, fraudulently misled her into believing that Jennings was not in fact the inventor of the bezel.

In addition to continuing to pursue his patent application, Jennings filed this action against the defendants under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(a)-(d), as well as its Indiana counterpart, Ind. Code §§ 35-45-6-2. * * *

For the following reasons, we affirm the dismissal of all claims. Because we have resolved Jennings’s appeal this way, we have no need to reach the attorneydisqualification issue.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 25, 2007 03:51 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions