CHICAGO – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., announced a resounding victory in a major patent infringement case brought against its client, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, by Star Scientific, Inc. (Star Scientific, Inc. v. R.J. Reynolds et al., Nos. MJG-01-1504 & MJG-02-2504 (D. Md.)). The defense team was led by Brinks attorneys, Richard A. Kaplan, Ralph J. Gabric, K. Shannon Mrksich and Jerold A. Jacover, all shareholders at the firm. The case involved two patents for a method of substantially preventing the formation of tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
Star had requested damages of more than a billion dollars. Brinks tried the case in Baltimore in a bench trial before the Court that focused on the defense of inequitable conduct that Brinks developed during discovery.
According to August Borschke, chief patent counsel for R.J. Reynolds, Star improperly attempted to procure patent coverage for old tobacco curing technology and, in the process, concealed that old technology from the Patent Office.
On June 26, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis concluded that R.J. Reynolds won the trial and issued a 47-page written opinion holding that Star’s patents were unenforceable for inequitable conduct in the Patent Office. Judge Garbis also entered final judgment that Star’s patents are both unenforceable and invalid. As a result, after six years of litigation, all of Star’s claims against R.J. Reynolds have been dismissed.
“We applaud the thoughtful decision issued by Judge Garbis. This has been a long, hard-fought case and we are very pleased that our client, R.J. Reynolds, has been vindicated and has been found to have done nothing wrong,” said Richard A. Kaplan. “From Day 1, we have said that Star’s case was totally without merit. To put this decision in perspective, this is probably one of the largest defense wins in a patent case in history, since Star was seeking more than $1 billion and has now come away with nothing. As the court noted, Star made substantial, material false statements and omissions and deliberately misled the Patent Office. The patents have now been expunged. This is a monumental win. This defense has been a team effort for my firm and I want to thank all the many people that participated in achieving this victory.”
The final judgment incorporates earlier January 2007 rulings by Judge Garbis granting summary judgment in favor of R.J. Reynolds. Judge Garbis deemed Star’s patent claims invalid as fatally indefinite, observing that “the essential problem with the claims is that no one – certainly not one of ordinary skill in the art – reading the patents-in-suit would be able to carry out the invention.”
In response to Star’s statement that it will appeal, Ralph J. Gabric commented, “We are very confident that the thorough and well-reasoned decisions of Judge Garbis will be upheld on appeal and I suspect that the Federal Circuit will be as offended by Star’s conduct in the Patent Office as Judge Garbis was.”
R.J. Reynolds is the nation’s second largest tobacco company.
Founded in 1917, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione is based in Chicago with four additional offices across the country serving the intellectual property needs of clients from around the world. The firm is one of the largest IP law firms in the country, with more than 160 attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents specializing in intellectual property litigation and all aspects of patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, unfair competition, intellectual asset management, and technology and licensing agreements. Brinks routinely handles assignments in fields as diverse as electrical, chemical, mechanical, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, nanotechnology, Internet and computer technology, as well as in trademarks and brand names for a wide variety of products and services. For more information, visit www.usebrinks.com.
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