Digital Camera Manufacturers Score Another Win in Patent Case
Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has been steadily whittling away at summary judgment motions in In Re Papst Licensing Digital Camera Litigation, a multidistrict litigation over allegations that digital camera manufacturers infringe on patents owned by Papst Licensing Gmbh & Co. A ruling Collyer issued on July 1 effectively ended Papst's case. Her latest ruling, issued on Friday, gave the camera-makers an insurance policy.
In the ruling, Collyer concluded that digital cameras, camcorders and voice recorders manufactured by Fujifilm USA Inc., Panasonic Corp., Nikon Corp. and several other companies do not infringe on one of two patents owned by Papst. The ruling resolves one of six summary judgment motions filed by the defendants. Over the last few months, Collyer has been steadily working through those motions, and has ruled in favor of the defendants four other times. By the time she issued her fourth ruling on July 1, Papst no longer had any claims left in the case.
Friday's ruling makes the judgment nearly appeal-proof. For every device at issue in the litigation, Collyer has now found at least two reasons why they don't infringe on each of Papst's two patents.
The two patents cover an "interface device" designed to accelerate the transmission of data to computers. The inventor of the device never produced his invention and ended up selling his patent rights to Papst, which bills itself as "an international licensing and patent monetization firm." Papst and its lawyers at Husch Blackwell alleged that many modern digital cameras, camcorders and voice recorders infringe on the patents.
Papst began seeking royalty payments from the camera-makers in the late 2000s. The defendants responded by seeking declaratory judgments that they didn't infringe Papst's patents. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the lawsuits into an MDL before Collyer in 2010. Once the MDL was formed, the defendants and their outside law firms had an easier time collaborating, Fujifilm counsel Steven Routh of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe said in an interview. Of the nine defendants, three settled before summary judgment: Ricoh Corp., Konica Minolta Photo Imaging USA Inc. and the Casio Computer Company.
Routh and T. Vann Pearce Jr. of Orrick represented Fujifilm. Panasonic was represented by an Alston & Bird team led by Rachel Capoccia. Nikon had lawyers at Jones Day, including David Witcoff and Marc Blackman.