Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 18, 2008) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran denied defendants’ (collectively “eSpeed”) motion for judgment as a matter of law that plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT”) patents were unenforceable because of patent misuse. TT’s open letter to the futures market was not patent misuse despite the facts that:
- The letter requested a 2.5 cent fee for every transaction an exchange processed regardless of whether infringing software was used; and
- The fees did not end when the patents expired.
Had such a license been entered, it would have been per se patent misuse. But because no exchange ever accepted the offer or even entered serious negotiations with TT based upon the offer, there was no patent misuse.
Terms in certain license agreements that prevented licensees from using eSpeed software, regardless of whether the eSpeed software infringed, were improper. But the terms did not rise to the level of patent misuse because the effect of the clauses was not anti-competitive. The clauses were only in two of TT’s fifteen settlement agreements. And TT argued that the intent of the parties in the two agreements was only to restrict the use of infringing eSpeed products. Furthermore, the other thirteen agreements only restrict use of infringing software.
Terms in the agreements requiring royalties on any trade for which licensed software could be used, as opposed to just those for which patented software was actually used, were not patent misuse. The agreements required only that royalties be paid on trades made using licensed products or any software when licensed and unlicensed software was linked such that either could be used to make the trade. If unlicensed software that was not linked to the licensed software was used, no royalty was due.
Finally, the provisions preventing licensees from assisting third parties to invalidate the TT patents were not patent misuse. Licensees that had not agreed to a consent judgment as part of a settlement were free to challenge the validity of the patents on their own. Furthermore, no licensee was prevented from participating in court-ordered invalidity proceedings or from assisting a government entity, such as the PTO, that was considering the validity of the patents.
* Click here to read much more about this case in the Blog’s archives and click here for a copy of the opinion.