Maschoff Brennan



Fed. Circ. Affirms Foundation Patents Weren’t Infringed

August 28, 2020

By Dani Kass

Share us on: By Dani Kass

Law360 (August 27, 2020, 8:31 PM EDT) — The Federal Circuit on Thursday upheld two decisions out of California federal court that construction companies didn’t infringe a pair of foundation pile patents.

In a precedential opinion, the three-judge panel upheld the claim construction U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford used when granting summary judgment of noninfringement to Foundation Constructors. The court then separately upheld a ruling that Aldridge Construction and others didn’t infringe the same patents, citing its newly created precedent.

The patents cover foundation piles or tips, which are “tubular structures placed into the ground to provide stability for the foundations built over them.” The type at issue is driven into the ground through rotational torque, like a screwdriver.

The infringement litigation was brought in 2017 by inventor Steve Neville, along with two companies he’s licensed the patents to: Substructure Support Inc. and TDP Support Inc. They said Foundation infringed with its ED2M and ED3 pile tips, and the parties in the Aldridge suit infringed with M-pile tips.

The case turned on whether the end plates of the accused foundation tips had a “substantially flat surface” and “at least one protrusion extending outwardly from it.” After construing those claims, the district court said the products didn’t infringe.

Neville and the licensees argued with the appeals court about what counts as the flat surface and a protrusion, but the Federal Circuit didn’t buy their arguments and upheld the lower court’s construction.

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision and happy for our clients,” Tyson K. Hottinger of Maschoff Brennan, who represents Foundation and Aldridge, said in an email.

Counsel for Neville and the licensees didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

U.s. Circuit Judges Alan D. Lourie, Kathleen M. O’Malley and Raymond T. Chen sat on the panel for the Federal Circuit.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,914,236 and 9,284,708.

Substructure is represented by Joel Kauth and Mark Yeh of KPPB LLP.

Foundation and Aldridge are represented by Tyson K. Hottinger, Jared J. Braithwaite and R. Parrish Freeman Jr. of Maschoff Brennan.

The case is Neville v. Aldridge Construction Inc., case number 20-1176, and Neville v. Foundation Constructors Inc., case number 20-1132, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

–Editing by Haylee Pearl.

Reprinted from Law360

Tyson K. Hottinger

Jared J. Braithwaite

R. Parrish Freeman