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McAndrews, Held & Malloy Secures Claim Construction Victory and Settlement for Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. and VF Imagewear, Inc.

Date: August 23, 2011 || Client Successes

McAndrews, Held & Malloy announced today that it secured a victory on a crucial claim construction issue for its clients Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. and VF Imagewear, Inc.  This three-year-old case settled on confidential terms shortly after the claim construction victory, and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, dismissed the case with prejudice today.  McAndrews also served as local counsel for Carhartt, Inc.  

Plaintiffs Itex, Inc. and MF & H Textiles, Inc., in two separate lawsuits (one in 2005 and one in 2008), charged 12 different corporations (including Mount Vernon, VF and Carhartt) with infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,468,545 for flame-retardant, cotton-blend fabrics.  

Mount Vernon and VF were sued in 2008 by Itex and MF & H, and McAndrews was hired to take over the case for Mount Vernon and VF in August, 2010, after the original claim construction ruling.  Upon taking the case, McAndrews’ attorneys immediately filed a motion to reconsider the court’s claim construction of the term, “cotton fabrics,” which the court had earlier held was synonymous with the term “woven fabrics.”  The McAndrews attorneys contended that the court improperly rewrote the claim term and that it should instead be construed to have its ordinary meaning: “fabrics made only from cotton fibers.”  Under this construction, McAndrews believed that the defendants would clearly not be infringing the patent claims in question and that the only independent claim would likely be invalid under 35 U.S.C. 112.  After months of briefing and a second Markman hearing, the court ruled in the defendants’ favor on June 17, 2011.  The court issued its formal Memorandum and Opinion Order on June 20, 2011 and the case settled shortly thereafter under confidential terms. 

“This case is a great example of the 'never give up' adage.  Our client had essentially lost the previous Markman hearing on this issue at the time we became involved in the case,” said Tim Malloy, founding partner and chairman of McAndrews, who served as lead counsel on the case.  “We looked at the court’s construction and decided that the best strategic move for our clients to win this case quickly was to file a motion for reconsideration.  It’s a motion that many judges are hesitant to give serious consideration. However, in this case, the court recognized that our motion was well reasoned and supported by Federal Circuit precedent.  The court correctly decided to take full briefing and a hearing on our motion, and our strategy paid off handsomely.”  The motion and Markman hearing were argued by McAndrews board member Gerald Willis.

McAndrews attorneys Timothy J. Malloy, Gerald C. Willis, Jonathan R. Sick and Christopher M. Scharff wrote the briefs and contributed to the preparation of the Markman presentation on behalf of Mount Vernon and VF.