Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran granted defendants’ (collectively “eSpeed”) motion for judgment as a matter of law that their infringement was no willful. The Court instructed the jury using the objective recklessness standard from In re Seagate Techs., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007), but when the Court reviewed the totality of the circumstances it found no support for the willfulness verdict and, more specifically that plaintiff Trading Technologies (“TT”) had not met its burden of proving that there was an objectively high likelihood of infringement when eSpeed sold its infringing product, Futures View. When eSpeed launched Futures View, TT’s patent had not issued. And while eSpeed was aware of the application, knowledge of an application does not prove willfulness. Furthermore, TT produced no evidence of post-issuance willfulness. TT submitted two internal eSpeed emails, but both were sent before TT’s patent issued and the emails only suggested that eSpeed should mimic certain features of the TT software. And upon learning of TT’s issued patent, eSpeed immediately began a redesign of Futures View, resulting in new software products that the Court granted summary judgment of noninfringement. As a result of the redesign, the infringing Futures View was only on the market for five months after TT’s patent issued.
TT also argued that eSpeed’s failure to make noninfringement arguments in preliminary injunction proceedings showed willfulness. But the Court held that eSpeed denied infringement in its answer and that there was no need to argue noninfringement of Future View in preliminary injunction proceedings because eSpeed was not selling Future View. There was no danger of an injunction over a product eSpeed was not selling.
Finally, TT argued that eSpeed’s creation of a $4M escrow account related to potential infringement of the TT patent when it purchased defendant Ecco was proof of willfulness. The Court, however, held that the escrow account was merely assignment of risk in a business deal. When eSpeed purchased Ecco, TT had already sued eSpeed and to the extent that there was any risk that Ecco products could infringe the TT patent, the escrow account was not an admission, but a “shrewd business practice.”
Expect to see more on TT v. eSpeed this week. The Court has issued its first few post-trial opinions and I am sure others are on their way before this case heads, presumably, to the Federal Circuit.