Federal Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Brinks Client Alpine in Encyclopaedia Britannica Patent Dispute

US CAFC issues 'first impression' judgment affirming District Court

Jun 25, 2010, 15:19 ET from Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione

CHICAGO, June 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued a ruling affirming summary judgment in favor of defendant Alpine Electronics, Inc., and Alpine Electronics of America, Inc., in a long-running patent dispute with Encyclopaedia Britannica (EB) over a chain of patents dating to 1989.

The Alpine companies are industry leaders in multimedia products that include high-performance mobile and vehicle navigation systems. In Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. v. Alpine Elecs. of Am., Inc., plaintiff EB, a provider of learning and knowledge products, sought to reverse a district court's 2008 ruling that the company's asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 7,051,018 (the '018 patent) and 7,082,437 ('437) were invalid.

"Summary judgment in this case hinged entirely on the issue of statutory interpretation," noted Christopher A. Harkins, a Brinks attorney representing Alpine. "The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that U.S. Code section 120 requires each application in the chain of priority to refer to the prior applications, and that summary judgment had been properly granted."

"We are pleased we could document the broken chain of patent applications and accomplish this result in a cost-effective manner for Alpine," said Gary Ropski, president of Brinks. "This may well be the final chapter in Encyclopaedia Britannica's assertion of these patents."

The patents at issue were filed on June 13, 2005, and, through a chain of patents and patent applications, both claim priority back to U.S. Patent No. 5,241,671 ('671) of October 26, 1989. The decision in the current appeal hinged on whether these patents were entitled to the earlier priority date. In the case of EB, the company's later-filed '018 and '437 patents contained a reference to the earlier '671 patent, but an intermediate application in the chain of priority, No. 8/113,955, filed on Aug. 31, 1993, did not contain such a reference.

Alpine is a long-standing client of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States. In addition to Harkins, the Brinks attorneys representing Alpine in this matter were Gary M. Ropski, Laura Beth Miller, and Cynthia A. Homan.

About Alpine

Alpine Electronics, Inc. is one of the leading manufacturers of mobile electronics specializing in mobile multimedia, digital entertainment and navigational products. For additional information, visit www.alpine-usa.com.

About Brinks

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione is one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States and serves the intellectual property needs of clients around the world. Brinks has more than 170 attorneys, scientific advisors and patent agents who specialize in intellectual property litigation and all aspects of patent, trademark and copyright law. The firm also advises on issues relating to intellectual asset management, trade secret, unfair competition, and technology and licensing agreements. Brinks routinely handles assignments for companies in the electrical, chemical, and mechanical engineering sectors; the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and nanotechnology industries; and for companies whose work relates to Internet and computer technology law. The firm's trademark practice works on behalf of clients who deal in a wide variety of products and services. Founded in 1917, Brinks is based in Chicago and has five additional offices across the country, including its new office in Washington DC. More information is available at www.usebrinks.com.


Jennifer Harris

Clovis, Inc.



Carolee Swallie

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione



SOURCE Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione