Three Strikes and You are Out: District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Lack of Standing, No Infringement and Invalidates the Patent
Plaintiff NOV filed a patent infringement action asserting that defendant Omron had infringed NOV's patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,474,142 or the '142 Patent). Specifically, NOV alleged Omron's oil rig automation control system has an automatic driller function that infringes one or more claims of the '142 Patent.
After years of litigation, Omron filed dispositive motions asserting lack of standing, no infringement and invalidity of the '142 Patent. The district court first found that NOV had no standing to assert the patent as the owner of the patent had only "agreed to assign" the patent. "In sum, the prevailing Federal Circuit case law makes clear the "agrees to assign" language in the ACA was not a present assignment. The ACA further indicates Varco, L.P. was to issue a separate assignment document, but there is no such piece of paper. Because NOV is unable to show the ACA was a present assignment of assets, the Court finds, on this ground alone, NOV has failed to satisfy its burden of proving ownership and, consequently, standing to sue."