Case Study

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Temco Metal Products: Winning the Exceptional Case

Temco Metal Products Company is a small company manufacturing fuel tank components for Class 8 truck manufacturers including Freightliner, Volvo/Mack, Peterbilt/Kenworth and International. In early 2004, Temco introduced an innovative new fuel valve for side-mounted fuel tanks. The sophisticated new full function valve vents the tank to prevent pressure build up, provides safety thermal relief, and closes during a truck roll-over to prevent fuel spillage.

Temco's much larger, primary competitor, GT Development, sued Temco in federal court for patent infringement, in an attempt to prevent Temco from selling its new fuel valve which threatened Temco's very existence. GT Development engaged a large, well-known Seattle intellectual property law firm to pursue its claims against Temco. In turn, Temco called upon its business law firm Tonkon Torp to defend it in this "anti-competitive" lawsuit.

Tonkon Torp's intellectual property litigators reviewed with Temco's engineers the technical background surrounding the complex operation of this valve. Utilizing this information and their background in patent law, Tonkon Torp's lawyers defeated GT Development's numerous arguments about the meaning of the claim language and the scope of the patent.

Based on the record developed by Tonkon Torp lawyers, the case was dismissed with prejudice. In addition, because of the compelling evidence presented by Tonkon Torp, the court in an extraordinary finding held that GT Development's lawsuit against Temco was an "exceptional" case and ordered GT Development to pay Temco all attorney fees it had incurred in defending the lawsuit.

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