Animatics, Quicksilver settle patent lawsuit without damages trial
Santa Clara CA; San Dimas, CA—Following more than five years of court battles, Animatics Corp. reports that its hotly contested lawsuit against QuickSilver Controls Inc. for infringing its patent covering integrated servos has been completely settled.
This latest settlement arose shortly after Animatics received a favorable decision in its patent infringement case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Animatics initially sued QuickSilver for infringing its patent for combining a servomotor with an integrated microprocessor controller. After a three-week trial in November 2002, and a deadlocked jury, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found as a matter of law that the ac-cused QuickSilver products infringed Claims 32 and 35 of Animatics' patent, but did not infringe Claims 26, 28 and 31.
The appeals court reversed the district court's finding of no infringement of claims 26, 28 and 31 and directed the district court to enter a judgment of infringement on those claims as well. Animatics explains that the federal circuit's opinion is a major victory because claims 26, 28 and 31 are broader than the claims previously found to have been infringed. If Animatics originally had won on these claims at the district level, the resulting 'S-Series' workaround would not have been viable.
With only a damages trial left to follow the appeals court’s ruling, both parties were motivated to settle the case. Animatics viewed the damages trial as yet another unnecessary expense, and saw a more predictable and positive solution in working with QuickSilver, now that the issues of infringement and patent validity were resolved. Both parties wished to spare their distributors and customers any harm wherever possible.
Consequently, the two firms reached a settlement that releases all parties, including the distributors. QuickSilver will pay Animatics its reasonable royalty for all of the integrated servos made in the past, along with an additional measure of attorney's fees. Animatics agreed to forsake all other damages in exchange for QuickSilver's cooperation in paying at least some of the overall losses related to the infringement and litigation.
Since their agreement doesn’t require QuickSilver to compensate Animatics for all of its legal expenses, Animatics has not given QuickSilver a license to sell integrated servos in the future. Robert Bigler, Animatics’ CEO, says that, 'It would not be fair to our existing alliance partners, when they came to us without any litigation right from the get-go, to give a license to a party that chose the path of most resistance.'
Quicksilver adds that the most important thing was to protect its distributors. Don Labriola, Quicksilver’s president, adds that, 'We chose settlement as the most reliable way to protect both users and distributors from legal issues, and to end the drain of litigation, so QuickSilver can continue to provide new and exciting products to our customers.'
The second most important thing for QuickSilver was to be able to continue to offer its technology to the market, at least in its non-integrated form. 'QuickSilver has already introduced several non-integrated products, showcasing our unique motion control capabilities and user-friendly interfaces, and, under this agreement, we will again be able to offer complete motion solutions including motors and encoders to help speed our customer's products to market,” says Labriola. “We look forward to supplying a growing range and depth of products to our customers.'
Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor