WesternGeco LLC v. Ion Geophysical Corp.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents
  • Date Filed: 06-26-2012
  • Case #: 4:09-CV-1827
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ellison
  • Full Text Opinion

An infringing system is made at the place where it is assembled for use, while it is used at the place where it is put into operation.

Opinion (Ellison): WesternGeco sued Ion Corp. and Fugro claiming infringement of several patents. Following a litany of summary judgment motions, most of which were denied, the court considered summary judgment on patent no. 6,691,038 (’038). Both Ion and Fugro argued that they could not have infringed the ’038 patent because they did not make, use, or sell an infringing system in the United States. For the purposes of the Patent Act, the court noted, the United States does not include the high seas, the Chukchi Sea, or the US Exclusive Economic Zone. The evidence provided by WesternGeco, however, only indicated that Fugro had used its system in the Chukchi Sea, and that its vessels “may” have stopped at US ports when conducting surveys using the system. To support its claims against Ion, WesternGeco only adduced evidence that Ion had conducted shore-side tests of its system. Because the ’038 patent required the use of a vessel, the court determined that on shore testing was not making or using the patented system. Similarly, the court held that because neither Ion nor Fugro sold vessels capable of completing an infringing system, neither company could have sold, or offered to sell, an infringing system. Because the Chukchi Sea is not considered part of the United States, and because the court refused to accept the possibility that Fugro had used US ports as evidence that it had used the system in the United States, the court GRANTED Fugro and Ion’s summary judgement motions with respect to making or using the patented system.

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