The U.S. Supreme Court denied software developer’s SpeedTrack writ to overturn the Federal Circuit’s application of the recently revived, 100+ year old Kessler doctrine. Speedtrack lost an initial case against Walmart where the accused product was found not to infringe Speedtrack’s patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed a decision of the district court that SpeedTrack was barred under the Kessler doctrine from bringing a second lawsuit against Office Depot because the accused Office Depot product was “essentially the same” as the Walmart product that was found to be non-infringing.
This case is important to plaintiffs and defendants alike in the consumer technology space where new versions of products are constantly released, but the core functionality remains unchanged from version to version. The implication of this ruling implies that once an accused product is found to be non-infringing, subsequent versions of that product can also be protected from litigation even if they were not a part of the original lawsuit. Additionally, if there is a finding that one party does not infringe, a plaintiff can be barred from bringing a lawsuit against another unrelated party for infringement of products that are “essentially the same” as the non-infringing product.
SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc., C.A. No. 15-461 (U.S. Supreme Court, Jan. 11, 2016)