» 2012 » April

Someone Has Challenged Your Patent’s Validity. What Do You Do?

When you accuse another party of violating a patent you own, the first thing that usually happens is the opposing party asserts that your patent is invalid. If you have already filed suit against the infringing party, that opposing party will likely file a claim that your patent is invalid in the pending suit. On the other hand, if you have just threatened action against an infringing party, that infringing party may file a suit alleging patent invalidity against you in a jurisdiction that is favorable to them. What do you do?

Hopefully, before you accused the infringing party of violating your patent you had already retained a qualified patent attorney. That attorney likely already advised you of the risks that a suit could be filed against you if you asserted that someone violated your patent. Because of this possibility, sometimes it is important to file a patent suit in the jurisdiction you prefer before sending a letter threatening suit against an infringing party. On the other hand, sometimes it might be important to attempt to work through a potential infringement before a suit is filed. Every situation is different and therefore it is important to consult with a knowledgeable patent attorney before sending a demand letter to an infringing entity.

If you send a demand letter to an infringing party and they sue you in an unfavorable jurisdiction, you will then likely be faced with a decision of whether to proceed in the unfavorable jurisdiction or attempt to transfer the case to a place you would prefer. Again, knowledgeable legal counsel should be able to advise you on such matters. Either way, arguing that a patent is invalid is a big weapon for a party accused of patent infringement. Your patent becomes essentially worthless if a court finds it is invalid. Obviously, it is crucial to have effective legal representation when the validity of one of your patents is challenged.

To learn more, contact Austin patent litigation attorney, Austin business lawyer and Austin business litigation attorney Gregory D. Jordan at 512-419-0684.

Oil and Gas Lessors Should Promptly Review Royalty Payments

Texas oil and gas lessors have rights and remedies when their interests are being compromised. In particular, lessors have a right to receive the royalty they contracted to be paid. Owners should carefully monitor their royalty payments. Managing oil and gas royalties is essential whether you own an interest in one well or in hundreds.

Sometimes, errors in royalty payments happen due to oversights, valid mistakes, or misinterpretations of royalty clauses that can be easily and quickly remedied. But if a company deliberately tries to deceive a royalty owner, more aggressive negotiations and litigation may need to be pursued to obtain the monies that rightfully belong to the lessor. If you have a question, it usually pays to first ask the oil company. If you don’t get a good answer, public records are readily available. The company that operates your oil and gas wells has to report production levels on wells or leases every month. First purchasers also have to submit reports to compare volumes. If you still sense a problem after doing some digging, it might be wise to call a lawyer.

Having a skilled Texas oil and gas attorney may be your greatest asset if you believe you have been underpaid. The attorney can carefully review the lease agreement, royalty payments, and relevant laws. Do not let a land man or an oil and gas company sway your decision to contact an attorney if your gut tells you something is wrong.

In the recent Texas Supreme Court decision of Shell Oil v. Ralph Ross, the royalty owner lost out on underpaid royalties because he did not exercise due diligence to determine whether he was being shortchanged on royalty payments under a pooling and unitization agreement. Please don’t let this happen to you. To learn more, contact Austin oil and gas attorney Gregory D. Jordan at (512) 419-0684.

Battle for Airplane Wingtip Patent Could Stay in Austin Federal Court

The battle to keep airplane fuel costs low is now extending to the fight over where a patent lawsuit should be heard. In Airbus v. Aviation Partners, Airbus wants the rights to market a curved wingtip attachment that makes an airplane more fuel efficient. Aviation Partners says it has been using blended winglets on an estimated 3,500 Boeing jetliners that have enabled planes to fly further due to the technology decreasing fuel use by five to seven percent. Airbus calls its technology a “Sharklet” and purports its design cuts fuel consumption by 3.5 percent on single-aisle jets.

The dispute stems from the fact that Airbus had been discussing the designs with Aviation Partners for five years, reports the Wall Street Journal. They even had a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture. But all the while Airbus was creating its own model to “keep its options open.” When Airbus showed Aviation Partners the Sharklet sketches, the company claimed it was similar to their blended winglets and demanded royalties.

Airbus then filed a federal lawsuit against Aviation Partners seeking to invalidate the winglets patent and avoid royalty payments. The two parties are now warring over which court should hear the case. Airbus filed suit in Austin, Texas’ U.S. District Court. Aviation Partners wants the case moved to Seattle where it is based.

Aviation Partners asserts this business litigation and patent case is a classic example of a big company trying to exert its influence over the underdog. Aviation Partners has 13 employees and yearly revenue of just under $500 million. Airbus and its parent company bring in $60.4 billion. Airbus feels differently and says that the winglet patent royalty demands are “…a significant hindrance” that makes them have a “…complete disadvantage.”

The lawsuit comes down to wanting a bigger share of the global aircraft market. For example, Southwest Airlines has blended winglets on at least 80 percent or more of their Boeing 737s. Currently, 100 other airlines use them too.

Patent disputes such as this one merit an aggressive business litigation attorney to resolve the matter in the most expeditious, cost effective way. These issues can impact a business’ bottom line and battles over coveted intellectual property assets merit a skilled litigator to uphold a business’ rights. The stakes are high, so retaining a patent attorney that is skilled in the technical details and is a respected opponent in the courtroom is key.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business lawyer, Austin patent attorney, and Austin business litigation attorney. To learn more, visit http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com.

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