GL Trade Ams., Inc. v. Trading Techs Int’l., Inc., No. 11 C 1558, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 23, 2012) (Holderman, C.J.).
Judge Holderman granted defendant Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and 9(b) motion to dismiss plaintiff GL Trade Americas’ (“GL”) false advertising, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices claims based upon allegedly misrepresenting the scope of TT’s patents. GL alleged that TT falsely and misleadingly caused others to believe that its patents covered electronic trading software with automatic recentering functionality, even after Judge Moran held that TT’s patents did not cover automatic recentering.
Preemption by the Patent Act
TT argued that GL’s claims were preempted by the marking provisions of the Patent Act. But the Court held that the Lanham Act claims were not preempted because they required an additional showing of bad faith.
Allegations of Bad Faith
GL contended that it sufficiently pled bad faith, without using the words bad faith, by alleging that TT knew the scope of its patents, but despite that marked its products incorporating automatic recentering with its patents. Noting that patent marking allowed for “[s]ome inexactness”, the Court held that it was legally plausible for TT to believe that its accused produts were coverd by the patents. And the Court found no support for the proposition that a patent holder must notify users of which components in a program were covered by patents and which were not. As such, it was enough that a single mode of the software package did not have the patented feature, and TT was not required to identify to the user which aspects might read on the patents and which might not. Because GL had not pled bad faith, both its Lanham Act and deceptive trade practices act claims were dismissed.
** For much more on this case and related cases, check out the Blog’s archives.
Chief Judge Holderman recently gave the Northern District’s annual state of the court address. The address led with a moment of silence for the late Judge Hibbler. Pronouncing the state of the Court “good,” Holderman addressed existing vacancies on the bench:
- There were five vacancies on the bench but two are being filled by new Judges Lee and Tharp, confirmed in May.
- Magistrate Judges Nolan and Denlow are retiring, both effective October 1, 2012. The Court is reviewing applications to fill those upcoming vacancies.
The Court is also getting busier:
- Civil case filings increased 8.2% in 2011 to 9,652 cases.
- Civil jury trials increased 51% to 127 in 2011. From 2009 to 2011, civil jury trials increased 160%.
- The N.D. Illinois remains in the top 10% of districts in efficiency of resolving civil cases, with a median disposition time of 6.6 months.
The Court Clerk is investigating ways to make the Court’s website even more useful And the Court continues its participation in two pilot programs:
- Cameras in the Courtroom; and
- Patent Pilot Program.
Finally, the Court’s judges currently preside over more than 60 multi-district litigation cases.
This morning, the Northern District lost a great judge when Judge Ashman passed away at the age of 81. Judge Ashman retired in 2009 and then was recalled, continuing to serve as a magistrate judge until he passed away. Chief Judge Holderman had some particularly kind words about Judge Ashman in the Court’s statement today:
Marty was an outstanding jurist, a warm, gregarious human being, a tremendous mentor to younger judges, a true gentleman, and a wonderful colleague. We will miss him greatly and our hearts go out to his entire family.
I will personally miss him and the warm friendship we shared during our years together on the bench.