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Crunch Time for Automation Patent Lawsuit?

Judge will consider arguments; MAD/DigiMedia seek lifting of stay

We could be nearing a final decision on whether a patent lawsuit against a number of large broadcast groups proceeds to trial or remains on hold.

U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Stark has set a March 25 hearing for arguments from Mission Abstract Data and an associated company, DigiMedia Holding Group LLC, to lift the existing stay in their patent infringement suit against the broadcasters.

A letter from an attorney for the plaintiffs, who claim to hold patents involving hard disk automation systems, appears to have moved the judge to make the latest ruling in a case that has been stayed since November, 2011.

In a letter asking for the hearing, attorney Brian Farnan contends the broadcasters “have used serial reexamination requests to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to enjoy the benefits of a defacto stay” and therefore delaying the proceedings.

“The plaintiff remains confident that the second reexamination will result in confirmation of the asserted claims,” Farnan wrote in his request to the court.

A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office examiner in December rejected a number of the patent claims by DigiMedia in a second reexamination.

The USPTO ordered a second reexamination last year after “prior art” not previously available was presented. Broadcast Electronics, which is not a defendant in the case, filed the original ex parte reexamination request with the United State Patent and Trademark Office.

DigiMedia had until Jan. 21 to respond to USPTO examiner Alexander Kosowski’s claim rejections, according to the USPTO documents. It wasn’t clear after reviewing the USPTO website whether the company filed a response or asked for an extension of the deadline.

Once the USPTO reviews the response, the government could make a final “office action,” in which it finally rejects or allows some of the claims.

Patents 5,629,867and 5,809,246 lie at the center of the infringement suit that targets CBS Radio, Greater Media, Beasley Broadcasting, Entercom and Cox. Mission Abstract Data sued the broadcasters in federal court in March, 2011.


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