Sony Strikes At Trans Video Patent

Scott Daniels | February 16, 2010

This past summer, Trans Video sued Sony in the Northern District of California for infringement of U.S. Patent 5,991,801.  That patent claims a digital video news distribution system.  Sony filed an Answer denying infringement, but also presenting a detailed allegation that the ‘801 patent had been obtained by inequitable conduct, specifically by the applicants’ failure to disclose the Hurt prior art patent to the examiner.

Sony has now taken the further step of requesting that the PTO conduct an ex parte reexamination of the ‘801 claims.  Although the request itself is not yet available, we strongly suspect that its main focus is the relationship of the Hurt patent to the ‘801 claims.  Sony’s reexamination strategy thus may be to seek a PTO determination that the Hurt patent raises substantial new questions of patentability, thereby establishing for the inequitable conduct defense the fact that the Hurt patent was “material” to the originally prosecuted ‘801 claims.

Sony may also ask the District Court to stay its proceeding until the Patent Office resolves the reexamination.  The Northern District of California is one of the jurisdictions most likely to grant a stay, particularly in the very early stages of litigation.

Trans Video sued Sony in 2008 for infringement of the ‘801 patent, but soon thereafter voluntarily dismissed the case.

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