Monday, December 15, 2008
Ford Loses Another Patent Battle
It’s not been a good year for Ford Motor Company.
Not only did Ford and its Detroit cousins fail to secure a multibillion-dollar bailout last week, Ford also lost a $23 million patent-infringement case against independent inventor Jacob Krippelz Sr.
Krippelz invented a small light mounted to side rear view mirrors. Last Friday, a jury awarded Krippelz the payout. The case has shades of Flash of Genius, the movie released this year of intermittent windshield inventor Robert Kearns, who eventually won a patent-infringement case against Ford and other car makers.
"I can tell you we’re disappointed," Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans told Inventors Digest. "We believe the side view mirrors we purchased don’t infringe this patent and we intend to appeal."
Jake Krippelz, Jacob’s son, was happy with the initial victory. “The little guy prevailed,” he wrote me in an e-mail. “I think (this) will give hope to all the inventors out there.”
The verdict came 10 years after Krippelz Sr. first sued Ford in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Krippelz is the 77-year-old Chief Executive Officer of Jake's, Inc., a machining and heavy equipment component manufacturing company in Aurora, Ill.
Krippelz was represented in the trial by Mark Ferguson, Adam Mortara and Hamilton Hill, all of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP of Chicago and James Ryndak and Mark Suri of the patent firm Ryndak & Suri LLP also of Chicago.
"This is the culmination of a very long fight for Jake Krippelz," Ferguson said in a prepared statement, "and we are pleased to have been able to help him finally vindicate his patent rights."
"It is an especially gratifying result," said Ryndak, "because it shows that a hard-working individual like Jake Krippelz with a patented invention can prevail against even one of the largest corporations of America."
The family is gearing up for a “willfulness trail” in a few weeks to seek triple damages.
“Many other automotive manufactures also are infringing,” Jake added in his e-mail to Inventors Digest, “which we will go after in ‘09.”