Plumbing and Mechanical

Court Grants ACE DuraFlo Attorney Fees In Patent Dispute

September 1, 2007
The United States District Court, Central District California, granted ACE DuraFlo Systems motion for attorney fees in the matter involving ACE and eight defendants.

The United States District Court, Central District California, on June 19, 2007, granted ACE DuraFlo Systems motion for attorney fees (Case No SA CV 05-01039 DDP (Ctx)) in the matter involving ACE and eight defendants including: Bill Howe Plumbing Inc. of San Diego, Nu Flow America Inc., American Pipe Lining Inc., Bill Howe Sr., Bill Howe Jr. and Steve Howe.

The legal standard in patent matters (35 U.S.C.§ 285) sets that a court is permitted to award attorney fees to the prevailing party in “exceptional cases.” Exceptional cases for example include “those involving fraud, calculated recklessness, bad faith and conduct short of fraud but in excess of negligence.” The court found that the American Pipe Lining’s conduct in this case placed them squarely within the range of cases in which courts grant attorney fees.

In April, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California denied APL’s request that the court reconsider its Jan. 29, 2007, ruling in favor of ACE, for summary judgment in which it found that ACE had not infringed, induced others to infringe or contributed to the infringement of United States Patent No. 5,707,702 (the “702 patent”).

The 702 patent generally involves a method for manufacturing an epoxy pipelining composition. The 702 patent, owned by the US, is licensed to APL and sublicensed to Nu Flow America. ACE had originally sought a declaration of noninfringement as part of an ongoing dispute with APL, Nu Flow America, Nu Flow 2000, Bill Howe Plumbing Inc., Steve Howe and others. In the court’s original findings, the court found that APL had not presented any evidence from which a reasonable fact-finder could find that ACE infringed the 702 patent. APL failed to provide any evidence of infringement.