Honeywell v. Sperry Patent Infringement
Honeywell v. Sperry patent infringement case acted as a landmark case in the U.S. Presented in the federal court in April 1973, this case invalidated ENIAC patent case of 1964. ENIAC was the first general purpose digital computer in the world. It put electronic digital computer invention in the public domain.
This case combined two different lawsuits. Sperry Rand Corporation and holding company, the Illinois Scientific Development presented one lawsuit against the Honeywell Corporation. Sperry Rand Corporation accused Honeywell of patent infringement and it demanded royalties. The other one was a countersuit filed by Honeywell in Minneapolis, Minnesota charging the Sperry Rand Corporation with fraud and monopoly and seeking ENIAC patent invalidation. The firm alleged that the patent was infirm. The two lawsuits were filed on 26th May 1967. Honeywell filed its suit a few minutes before Sperry Rand Corporation and this would have significant bearing on this case later.
Earl R. Larson who was a judge in the U.S. District Court presided over the trial from 1st June 1971 to 13th March 1972 in Minneapolis Minnesota. The court decided that Honeywell had triumphed in the first on 26th May and that it could file a suit in the court. Sperry rand attorneys wanted this case to be heard in Washington D.C. A district court was seen as being friendlier to patent holders’ rights in contrast to Honeywell wishes. Honeywell was a large private company employing most people in Minnesota. The plaintiff filed a final brief of 500 pages ion 30th September 1972.
Some of the disputes of the Honeywell v. Sperry patent infringement case included the legality of a 1956 agreement on patent sharing between IBM and Sperry Rand which was in contention to represent the illegal conclusion of antitrust laws violation.
Validity and enforceability of the ENIAC patent was also filed by inventors John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert. By that time, Sperry Rand Corporation held this patent after several merges and corporate acquisitions. The application date for ENIAC patent was 26th June 1947 and it was issued on 4th February 1964 placed on the subsidiary of Sperry Rand Corporation, the Illinois Scientific Developments.
Enforceability of the patent was called a 30A package and it as filed by Mauchly and Eckert and it included the delay line memory system and several binary adders. If the Sperry Rand Corporation patent was found valid and therefore enforceable, Honeywell would pay it royalties which included legal fees, damages and court costs.
The court declared that Mauchly and Eckert did not invent automatic electronic computer themselves. Instead, they derived the subject matter from Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff.
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