Court Closes the Book on Encyclopaedia Britannica
Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione Victorious on Behalf of Client Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. and
Alpine Electronics, Inc.
Brinks Hofer Gilson and Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States,
announced that a court has ruled in favor of its clients, Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. and Alpine
Electronics, Inc., manufacturers of high performance mobile electronics, including mobile navigational
products, in a patent infringement case.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, a provider of learning and knowledge products, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District
Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division before Judge Lee Yeakel. Brinks client, Alpine,
challenged EB's assertion that Alpine's navigational products had infringed EB's U.S. Patent No. 5,241,671
('671) relating to searching encyclopedias stored on electronic compact disks CDs. Because the patent failed to
disclose adequate structure, scope and understandable definition of certain terms, the court found all claims of
EB's '671 patent invalid.
"We are pleased that we could accomplish this result in a cost-effective manner for our clients," said Gary
Ropski, president of Brinks. "Discovery has been stayed while this motion was pending. All the claims of the
patent were declared invalid for indefiniteness, because the patent failed to disclose structure that corresponded
to computer software means plus function clauses."
By way of background, in 1989, EB filed an application for a patent that was issued in 1993. That same year,
however, in a rare action by the Commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an eight-
year reexamination of EB's patent was commenced because the Commissioner considered the patent to be too
broad. Then, in 2001, after eight years of reexamining the patent, the USPTO issued a reexamination certificate
that narrowed the scope of the '671 patent. In 2005, EB asserted that their reexamined '671 patent was infringed