Lightning Source Wins Court Appeal
In a landmark case being eyed by printers and manufacturers for the last several years, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a St. Louis District Court judgement from more than a year ago in which the lower court had ruled against Lightning Source Inc. and Amazon.com for patent infringement.
The court’s opinion was unanimous in finding that “no reasonable jury could find infringement on the correct claim construction.”
The plaintiff, On Demand Machine Corporation (ODMC), won the initial verdict in March 2004, and was awarded $15 million in damages by the jury. The latest ruling, in favor of Lightning Source, a division of Ingram Industries Inc., vacated the damages award. Lightning Source is one of the largest on-demand printers in the world, with more than 10 million on-demand books printed to date.
The initial lawsuit stemmed from ODMC’s assertion that the company possessed a valid patent restricting Lightning Source from using its “print on demand” printing technology. ODMC founder Harvey Ross received the patent in 1995. The lawsuit was filed in October 2001.
“We are delighted the appellate court supported Lightning Source’s position in the recent decision,” said J. Kirby Best, president and CEO of Lightning Source Inc. “Our publisher partners, as well as our distribution and retail partners, prove that demand-driven printing is an integral part of their daily business. ‘Sell book, print book’ works. With more than 27 million books printed for over 4,200 publishers, we anticipate continued significant growth for Lightning Source publishers in both our U.S. and U.K. markets.”
“The lower court decision has been 100-percent reversed today,” said John R. Ingram, chairman of Lightning Source, in a company statement on March 31.
Bill McCoy, general manager of Adobe Systems’ ePublishing business, wrote on his blog, “Hopefully, clearing up this patent confusion will stimulate new offerings in the print-on-demand segment.”