Update on Furuno Requests against Honeywell Marine Navigation Patents

Scott Daniels | August 19, 2010

In June we reported that Furuno had filed reexamination requests against five Honeywell patents claiming marine display and navigation systems.  Honeywell had previously sued Furuno in Minnesota for infringing those five patents.  Judge Michael Davis has now stayed that case pending completion of the five reexaminations.

In granting the stay, Judge Davis recited the familiar three-part test for determining whether to grant a stay: whether there would be prejudice to the patentee, whether a stay would simplify the issues, and the stage of the litigation.  The stay order is noteworthy, however, in that the PTO had granted reexamination for only one of the five Honeywell patents.  To reject Honeywell’s argument that a stay with respect to all five patents would therefore be premature, Judge Davis relied heavily on the PTO statistics showing that reexamination is granted in the great majority of cases.[1] This reliance on PTO reexamination statistics contrasts markedly with the skepticism recently expressed by Judge Keith Ellison in Tesco v. Weatherford Int’l (Civ. No. 08-cv-2531).

The stay order is also interesting in that Judge Davis noted a passage from the PTO’s reexamination grant “that Furuno U.S.A.’s marine navigation software, MaxSea, which Honeywell has accused of infringement, ‘is directed to a different field of endeavor, namely a seas based charting system rather than the flight display system as claimed.’”  (Emphasis added).  The reexamination may therefore have an effect on the infringement issues when the case returns to the court after the stay is lifted.


[1] Since Judge Davis granted the stay, reexamination has been granted for three of the remaining Honeywell patents, and the request for the fifth is still pending.

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