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May 9, 2009


Louis Stumberg and James Fulton invented a safety device for firefighters: automatically sounding an alarm if a firefighter didn't move for some time (presumably incapacitated). In 1989, the inventors hired Akin Gump to file a series of patents. Upon later enforcing the patents, they wound up getting settlements totaling $9 million. John Raley of Cooper & Scully, one of the firms representing the inventors: "When these actions were settled, they were settled much more cheaply than they should have been settled for. The royalty that should have been awarded to these plaintiffs was far less than if Akin Gump had done their job properly in handling the patent applications." The apparent problem: the prosecutor had failed to disclose information material to the patent, and, according to Raley, did so with intent to deceive the PTO.

A jury agreed, awarding $72.6 million, finding Akin Gump responsible for botched prosecution.

There were four defendants. The others settled. Akin Gump fought on.

Akin Gump's defense was trying to invalidate the patents. Their own handicraft. It didn't work.

The patents in the case included 5,157,378 and 5,910,771.

Sources: SA news; IP Law360; AmLaw.

If you want a quality patent, call Platinum Patents.

Posted by Patent Hawk at May 9, 2009 12:28 AM | Prosecution


Its hard for me to believe that the national market for firefighter helmets is worth 100M dollars...

Did Gump really try to invalidate the patents? I guess at some level I get it, but on the other hand, WTF? More information on this story would be appreciated Hawk.

Posted by: Jusy sayin' at May 9, 2009 7:41 PM