Nicholas Malfitano Apr. 28, 2016, 2:48pm


PHILADELPHIA – A federal court ruled Ford Motor Company did not infringe on the patent copyrights of a Wayne–based fuel injection system manufacturing company.

Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company

In an April 20 opinion written by Judge Norma L. Shapiro, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania determined Ford had not infringed on U.S. Patent No. 7,318,414 (the ‘414 patent), a copyright owned by TMC Fuel Injection System, LLC, and was granted a motion for summary judgment to that effect.

In August 2012, TMC filed suit against Ford, alleging the auto-maker infringed on two claims (Nos. 38 and 40) of the ‘414 patent for fuel injection system technology, for use in its F-150 pickup truck and other vehicles.

Shapiro said, “The ‘414 patent describes an automobile fuel injection system used to supply fuel from a tank to its engine. Fuel is typically pumped from the tank to the engine through a pipe called a fuel rail. Excess fuel in an engine is generally pumped back into the tank. Two common methods to regulate the amount of fuel going into the engine to prevent heated fuel from returning to the tank are: (1) Varying the speed of the fuel pump; and (2) Using a pressure regulator.”

“Ford’s vehicles allegedly infringing claims 38 and 40 use a fuel injection system to deliver pressurized fuel from a fuel supply to fuel injectors of an engine. They use a pressure regulator in the fuel delivery module to create a largely constant pressure in the fuel system,” Shapiro added.

In May 2014, Ford filed a sealed motion for summary judgment, denying it infringed on any of TMC’s patented copyrights.

Ford also filed petitions for review with the United States Patent and Trade Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

In its final inter partes review opinion, the PTAB held Ford failed to prove claims 38 and 40 are unpatentable over the prior art patents cited by Ford in this action.

“The PTAB also found the ‘414 patent’s prosecution history states an express disclaimer of pressure regulators and incremental regulation means of any type from the system,” Shapiro stated.

TMC made numerous statements to the PTAB that its system does not use a pressure regulator and distinguished its invention from prior art patents using a pressure regulator.

“The Court accepts the PTAB conclusion that claims 38 and 40 cannot cover a system with a pressure regulator because the prosecution history states an express disclaimer of pressure regulators,” Shapiro reiterated.

“Ford’s accused vehicles use a pressure regulator. Because claims 38 and 40 cannot cover systems with a pressure regulator, the claims do not cover Ford’s accused vehicles. TMC’s infringement claim will be dismissed,” Shapiro said.

The plaintiff is represented by Robert L. Sachs Jr. of Shrager Spivey & Sachs in Philadelphia, and David Lindenbaum, John F. Ward and Michael J. Zinna of Kelley Drye & Warren, in New York City.

The defendant is represented by Andrew C. Whitney and Eric Kraeutler of Morgan Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia, and Frank A. Angileri, Lekeisha M. Suggs and Marc Lorelli of Brooks Kushman in Southfield, Mich.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:12-cv-04971

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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