In this patent infringement action, Plaintiff Total Rebuild (“Total”) asserted that Defendant PHC (“PHC”) infringed claims of United States Patent No. 8,146,428 (“the ’428 Patent”), which is directed to systems and methods for safely testing devices and components under high-pressure. The district court conducted a bench trial on inequitable conduct and concluded that the patent was invalid for several reasons.
First, the district court noted that the inventor, Mr. Lavergne, had a duty to disclose material information to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). The district concluded that material prior art had been withheld because certain devices had been offered for sale prior to the August 8, 2007, which was one year prior to the earliest application (the “Critical Date”). The district court explained that: “Here, the Cameron MTSs, Haliburton MTS, and Superior MTS were prior art under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b) because it was an offer for sale, sale, or public use by Total, Cameron, Haliburton, or Superior of a pressure testing system prior to the Critical Date. Furthermore, the offer for sale, sale, or public use of the Cameron MTSs, Haliburton MTS, and Superior MTS was material to the patentability of the ’428 Patent because claim 1 and claim 16 would not have issued had the sale been disclosed to the USPTO. This is especially true in view of the broadest reasonable interpretation and preponderance of the evidence standards that apply to the materiality prong of claims for inequitable conduct.”