Protecting Patents Becomes Nightmare for Swisher, CMI

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

It's been a nightmare that would cause Stephen King to shudder.

What's worse is that it lasted more than a decade and won't end in a hurry.

Bill Swisher and CMI Corp. have been on the roller coaster of America's economy since the mid-1970s, usually riding the crest of the wave with road building equipment innovations.

But competitors helping themselves to CMI's patented technology, without paying royalties was something that couldn't be tolerated, Swisher said.

That's when the real nightmare began.

The United States always has had strong patent and trademark protection laws, but 35 years ago courts started changing things, he said.

From 1960 through 1980, "a period I call the anti-consumerism period of America with the Vietnam rebellion and the college rebellion and so forth," 80 percent of patent infringement cases that were litigated were held invalid by federal courts, Swisher said.

"The point is that if you were going to try to stop somebody from infringing upon your patent, the odds were five to one before you went to the courthouse that you were going to lose. Appealing a lower-court ruling usually didn't help because of the 12 circuit courts of appeal; four of them have never held a patent valid this century. …