New Jersey Judge Overturns Jury Verdict of Patent Infringement

On Monday June 1, 2020, the New Jersey Federal District Court (Newark) granted defendant Central Garden & Pet’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, overturning the jury finding of patent infringement.  GTPP patent attorney Steve Grossman was a member of the Central trial team, along with Linda Harvey and Michael Freeman, of Greenberg Dauber et al, Newark, New Jersey.

In her decision, the judge held as a matter of law that “a legal error underpinned the verdict with respect to patent infringement,” going further to state that Central’s argument for judgment as a matter of law “encompasses both an attack on the legal underpinning of the plaintiff’s case on this claim and the sufficiency of the evidence.” The Court then concluded that it “agrees with the defendant’s position” and “the infringement verdict cannot stand.”

The Court’s earlier patent claim construction ruling had recognized that the patented product was one that was made of rubber, and that the Court was persuaded by the prosecution history that the only way the patent holder was granted the patent was to specify rubber of a certain thickness to differentiate from plastic.  The Court noted that the patent holder’s expert conceded that defendant’s applicators were made of plastic thereby warranting an overturn of the jury finding of infringement.  The court also denied the patent holder’s motions for enhanced damages and attorney’s fees.