Coda Development S.R.O.'s patent and trade secret claims are supported by sufficient evidence and aren’t time-barred, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Feb. 22.
Coda Chief Executive Officer Frantisek Hrabal says in the suit that he invented self-inflating tire technology and that his company shared confidential information with General Motors after it approached Coda about teaming with Goodyear to commercialize it.
Goodyear stopped communicating with Coda for several months in 2009, according to the complaint, and Coda said it assumed the silence meant Goodyear was no longer interested.
But after Goodyear filed a patent application in December 2009, and received U.S. Patent No. 8,042,586 in 2011, Coda sued Goodyear in the Northern District of Ohio. It asked for Hrabal to be recognized as the inventor on the patent, and sought damages for misappropriating trade secrets.
The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the trial judge’s dismissal. Coda presented sufficient evidence to support its inventorship claim, the court said. That evidence included Goodyear’s prior failure to create self-inflating tires, its unauthorized photography of Coda’s prototype, its cutting off communications when it filed the patent application, and a retired Goodyear employee’s unsolicited email to Coda saying that Goodyear copied its technology.
Coda’s misappropriation claims also aren’t time-barred, the court said. Coda may not have been on notice of the claim when the patent was published because it may have reasonably assumed Goodyear lost interest in the technology or would honor a nondisclosure agreement between the companies.
Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote the opinion, joined by Judges Evan J. Wallach and Todd M. Hughes.
Steptoe & Johnson LLP represents Coda. Jones Day represents Goodyear.
The case is Coda Dev. S.R.O. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Fed. Cir., No. 18-1028, 2/22/19.