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Dickinson Wright Prevails in Patent Litigation Trial on Behalf of Hitkansut LLC

TROY, Mich., March 21, 2019 – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Attorneys John S. Artz, John A. Artz, and Franklin M. Smith have prevailed on behalf of Hitkansut LLC and Acceledyne Technologies, Ltd. LLC (collectively, “Hitkansut”) in a patent infringement case against Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a research laboratory sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. On Friday, March 15, 2019, Federal Claims Judge Charles F. Lettow released a 30-page opinion granting Hitkansut’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs.

“We are pleased with Judge Lettow’s rulings in this case in favor of our client, Hitkansut LLC,” said John S. Artz, Member and Chair of Dickinson Wright’s Intellectual Property Litigation Practice Group. “This case makes clear that while the Government may take a person’s patent, the manner in which the Government takes the patent of a small company can affect the amount of compensation owed for the taking. We are happy that we were able to provide the necessary tools in the successful pursuit of our client’s claims of patent infringement against the U.S. government.”

Hitkansut’s founder, Ms. Donna M. Walker, invented and patented a materials processing method that provides unexpected benefits including significant energy savings, accelerated material processing efficiencies, and the ability to create new materials. In an effort to commercialize this novel method, Hitkansut disclosed it to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) under a Non-Disclosure Agreement. ORNL took Ms. Walker’s novel method, used it for its own benefit, including filing multiple patent applications and then won a prestigious industry research award. Hitkansut then filed suit against the U.S. Government in the Court of Federal Claims.

Dickinson Wright secured a favorable interpretation of the patent claims at issue and successfully defended against the Government’s challenges that the Hitkansut patent does not constitute patentable subject matter or is otherwise invalid. Over the course of a two-week trial, Dickinson Wright presented substantial evidence of ORNL’s infringement of Hitkansut’s patent, in addition to rebutting ORNL’s patent invalidity positions. On January 27, 2017, Judge Lettow issued an opinion finding that Hitkansut’s patent claims are valid, that the U.S. Government infringed all asserted claims, and provided an award of damages. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the court’s finding that Hitkansut’s patent is both valid and infringed. After preserving the court’s findings of infringement and validity on appeal, Hitkansut sought its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the protracted litigation against the government. After briefing and oral argument, the Court granted the vast majority of Hitkansut’s requested fees and costs.

According to Judge Lettow’s opinion, the “significant” fee award was justified after the lengthy, hard-fought case, and noted, “Hitkansut’s claim, however, was vigorously contested by the government, involved highly technical subject matter, spanned six years and proceeded through a lengthy appeal. Hitkansut also faced an opponent with vast resources whose calculus regarding settlement and the value of precedent differs from that of a private litigant.”

To read Judge Lettow’s full opinion, please click here.

Dickinson Wright’s Patent Litigation team handles domestic and international disputes involving patent infringement, validity, enforceability and ownership. Many of our patent litigators are registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and have technical degrees in areas such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and aerospace engineering – giving us in-depth insight into our client’s highly technical issues. We provide a team approach that is successful, efficient, and economical. To learn more about our Patent Litigation practice, please click here.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. Headquartered in Detroit and founded in 1878, the firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville and Music Row, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management controls and security processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.