Press Release September 02, 2010

Victory for Electrical Device Manufacturer in the U.S. Court of Appeals

Federal Circuit Rules Foreign Companies Violated Patents and Shutters their Importation of Infringing Products into the United States

NEW YORK, Sept. 2, 2010 — In a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Goodwin Procter LLP achieved a litigation victory for its client Pass & Seymour/Legrand (P&S), a leading supplier of electrical wiring devices.  The Federal Circuit affirmed an ITC ruling that a number of China-based manufacturers and their U.S. distributors had infringed P&S patents and the ITC’s orders that those companies and their U.S. distributors stop importation of infringing ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) products into the United States. 

“This hard-fought ruling shows the value of investing in and protecting intellectual property, especially in this economic downturn,” said Mark Abate, partner at Goodwin Procter and lead counsel for P&S in the case.  “These decisions enable P&S to fend off unfair competition, maintain market share, and preserve high-end R&D jobs and the innovation those workers create, in a product category the company created almost 40 years ago.”

GFCI receptacles were invented and developed by P&S in 1971, and are required by building codes in kitchens and bathrooms.  GFCI receptacles, which are identifiable by “test” and “reset” buttons on their face, have saved thousands of lives by reducing electrocution in homes and buildings.

P&S’s complaint was filed in August 2007 and the trial in the ITC was held in June 2008.  The investigation included six patents and multiple respondents.  Following the nine-day trial, the ITC Administrative Law Judge Carl C. Charneski noted numerous violations of P&S’s patents.  The Court of Appeals largely affirmed the findings of the ITC, holding all of P&S’s patents valid and enforceable, and that seven of the respondents infringed P&S’s patents.  The ITC’s previously-issued exclusion orders precluding importation of those infringing GFCIs and cease-and-desist orders precluding the U.S. distributors from selling those infringing GFCIs will remain in force. 

The Court of Appeals also ruled that two respondents did not infringe; however, P&S firmly believes that aspect of the decision is in error and therefore intends to request a rehearing by the Court of Appeals. 

Abate served as lead trial and appellate counsel for P&S.  George R. McGuire of Bond Schoeneck & King, PLLC’s Syracuse, New York office, served as co-counsel.  The trial and appellate team also included Goodwin Procter attorneys Jennifer Albert, Ankur Parekh, Andrew Stein, Calvin Wingfield and Bond Schoeneck & King attorney Dave Nocilly.  Since 2007, Goodwin Procter has been involved in six ITC investigations and 44 appeals at the Federal Circuit.

To see the P&S news release on the ITC findings, please visit www.passandseymour.com.  The decisions are available on the ITC website at www.usitc.gov and the Federal Circuit website at www.cafc.uscourts.gov.

About Goodwin Procter
Goodwin Procter LLP is one of the nation’s leading law firms with offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C.  The firm’s core areas of practice are corporate, litigation and real estate, with specialized areas of focus that include financial services, private equity, technology, REITs and real estate capital markets, intellectual property, products liability and mass torts.  Information may be found at www.goodwinprocter.com.