(CN) – A federal judge imposed sanctions Tuesday against a company that has been dragging out patent infringement litigation to extract royalty payments against the heavy hitters in digital camera technology, including Fujiflm, Nikon and Eastman Kodak.
The Washington, D.C., District Court said that Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. had shown “blatant disregard” for court orders that asked it to specify which cameras violated two of its patents.
The camera manufacturers, also including Olympus, Samsung, Hewlett Packard and Canon, asked the court to impose sanctions against Papst for failing to follow federal procedures.
In a scathing opinion, Judge Rosemary Collyer noted that Papst, a company that manufactures no products of its own but instead secures patents for others’ inventions, was “in the business of litigation” and demonstrated an “astounding and brash failure” to follow the court’s orders.
“While the threat of litigation alone often achieves royalty payments, the threat of never-ending discovery can induce even larger royalty payments,” the judge said. “Frankly, this appears to be Papst’s strategy in this case.”
Collyer found that Papst response to the court order was “purposefully vague” and was designed to complicate the company’s infringement claims.
“By … asserting its own much broader constructions, Papst would keep hundreds of accused products in this case, products that should no longer be the subject of this litigation” because the court had already rejected those constructions, Collyer added.
“The commingling of Papst’s preferred constructions with the court’s constructions makes it almost impossible to decipher what Papst’s actual infringement theories are,” the judge concluded.
The court barred Papst from “advancing any arguments for infringement, or against the camera manufacturers’ claims of noninfringement” but denied the manufacturers’ request for attorneys’ fees.