Update on ABPA V. FORD GLOBAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC
On August 4, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge Amos L. Mazzant filed a Report and Recommendation that the Motion to Dismiss of Ford Global Technologies be denied. Judge Mazzant agreed with the Automotive Body Parts Association that the lawsuit could go forward on the basis of “associational standing,” meaning that the ABPA can represent the interests of all the ABPA members in the effort to render invalid and unenforceable Ford design patents on aftermarket body parts.
Ford Global Technologies had filed the motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on the basis that associational standing in a patent case was unprecedented and that the ABPA did not meet the three so-called “Hunt” factors, which are: (a) its members would otherwise have standing to sue in their own right; (b) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization’s purpose; and (c) neither the claim asserted nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.
Judge Mazzant agreed with the ABPA’s arguments and authorities on all three issues and recommended that United States District Court Judge Ron Clark deny Ford Globals’ motion to dismiss. Judge Mazzant’s Report and Recommendation is attached.
On November 25, 2013, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Ford Global Technologies. (You can read the full lawsuit complaint here.) The lawsuit sought a declaration that Ford design patents covering automotive body repair parts are invalid and unenforceable under the doctrines of functionality and patent exhaustion. The lawsuit also sought an injunction that will prevent Ford from enforcing its design patents on automotive body repair parts.
Ford filed a motion to dismiss claiming that the ABPA does not have standing as an association to bring the lawsuit. It is this motion that was denied by Judge Mazzant, allowing the original case to move forward. We will keep you updated on further developments as they occur.