TAEUS War Stories: Fish Finder

Once upon a time…

There was a patent litigation that was stuck due to inconclusive information on the accused product. TAEUS unstuck the litigation with hard data, and the plaintiff won their case. Here are the particulars:

The patent, owned by Computrol, covered a sideways-looking sonar algorithm used in a fish-finder. This was useful to fishermen who wanted to see if there were fish in the perimeter around them, not just underneath them.

The accused product, from Lowrance, had been analyzed many times by various sonar experts using “black-box” techniques, without definitive proof that the patent was used.

The judge had ordered Lowrance to produce its source code. Lowrance had protested, saying some of their source code was proprietary and needed to redact some of it to protect their trade secrets. Judge agreed.

Lowrance produced redacted source code in paper format. Reams and reams of peer were used to represent the source code.

Court was stuck. Attorneys for the plaintiff called TAEUS.

TAEUS went to K-Mart, bought the Lowrance fish finder, opened it up, identified the micro controller, dumped its code, disassembled the code, analyzed the algorithm, and compared it back to the patent claims. Code was analyzed around-the-clock, with three different teams in two different time zones, each working 8-hr shifts until the project was complete some 4-6 weeks later.

Interestingly, the Lowrance algorithms were exactly similar to the patent’s claims.

Bond was set at $20MM. Case was settled out of court.

Interestingly still was the redacted sections of the Lowrance source code were the sections that used the patented claims.

Matters settle faster when intelligent people work with hard data, and not just hear stories about how a product works.


Written by: Arthur Nutter