Patent case ends with $1.54 million judgment

Tecumseh company said it can get back to business

published in The Oklahoman | October 3, 2007

A five-year patent infringement dispute came to a close when a federal jury ruled in favor of Tecumseh, Oklahoma-based Dickson Industries, Inc, awarding the manufacturer of specialized surface preparation equipment more than $1.54 million in actual and punitive damages.

Dickson Industries sought a declaratory judgment to invalidate a patent for a rumble strip grinding machine which the defendant, Patent Enforcement Team, was using to threaten and sue Dickson’s customers and potential customers.

After two weeks of testimony and deliberation, the jury before federal District Judge Joe Heaton found the patent owned by Patent Enforcement Team not only to be invalid, but also found the defendant liable for tortious interference for acting intentionally and with malice toward Dickson and its customers.

Dickson Industries was represented by John Kenney and Michael McClintock of McAfee & Taft.

“It’s a little unusual to have a finding of tortious interference,” said Kenney. “The jury has to find that the actions were malicious and harmful. The general law is that patent owners have the right to enforce patents. Only when they step over the line do they qualify for punitive damages.” The jury awarded Dickson more than $500,000 in actual damages and nearly $1.04 million in punitive damages.

The win marks the firm’s fifth trial award in excess of $1.5 million for a client in a patent case, with total judgments in patent cases more than $25 million. Last year, the firm successfully obtained a judgment of more than $14 million in actual and enhanced damages for a client in a patent infringement case against a subsidiary of major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

The defendant in the Dickson case, Patent Enforcement Team, LLC, was represented by the Florida-based national law firm of Akerman Senterfitt.