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Unitronics Ltd. v. Gharb

September 25, 2007

UNITRONICS (1989) (R"G) LTD., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SAMY GHARB, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Unitronics (1989) (R"G) Ltd., a company based in Israel, and its U.S. subsidiary, Unitronics, Inc. (collectively, "Unitronics"), sue Samy Gharb, a resident of Switzerland, to resolve a patent dispute. Mr. Gharb insists that Unitronics is infringing on a U.S. patent that he holds. Unitronics seeks a declaration that it has not and does not infringe any claim of Mr. Gharb's patent. Unitronics has filed a motion for partial summary judgment, to which Mr. Gharb, who is defending this case pro se in a foreign court and in a foreign language, has responded at length.*fn1 Having carefully reviewed both parties' submissions, the Court concludes that Unitronics has not and does not infringe on Mr. Gharb's patent. Partial summary judgment will be awarded to Unitronics.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

A. The Parties

Unitronics Ltd. is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Israel, with its principal place of business at Ben Gurion Airport. See Pls.' Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of its Mot. for Partial Summ. J. of Non-Infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,552,654 ("Pls.' Mem.") at 1. Unitronics, Inc., its subsidiary, is a corporation organized under the laws of the state of Delaware whose principal place of business is in Massachusetts. Id. Mr. Gharb is a resident of Zurich, Switzerland. Id. It appears, from the telephone conferences conducted in this case, that his native language is German.

B. The Technology at Issue

Before discussing Mr. Gharb's invention and the Unitronics products at issue, the Court provides a short definition section to aid the reader:

* Programmable Logic Controller ("PLC") "is simply a special computer device used for industrial control systems. [PLCs] are used in many industries such as oil refineries, manufacturing lines, conveyor systems, and so on. Where ever [sic] there is a need to control devices, the PLC provides a flexible way to 'software' the components together." Pls.' Mem., Pls.' Statement of Material Facts ("Pls.' Facts") ¶ 3 (quoting Mr. Gharb's Answer to Pls.' Request for Production No. 2) [Dkt. #32].

* Global System for Mobile Communications ("GSM") "is an international standard containing specifications defining the operation of a certain cellular communications network. The GSM specifications define the functions and interface requirements in detail for the network but do not address the hardware. As used herein, GSM also refers to wireless communications devices, such as a cell phone or modem, capable of communicating over a GSM network." Pls.' Facts ¶ 5 (quoting Pls.' Response to Def.'s Interrogatories at 2).

* "SMS" stands for Short-Message-Service, or text messages by cellular phone.

1. Mr. Gharb's Invention

Mr. Gharb invented a vehicle alarm system using five PLCs*fn2 and GSM and received U.S. Patent No. 6,552,654 ("the '654 Patent") for it. Compl. ¶¶ 9-11. Specifically, Mr. Gharb invented a security system that allows for a breach to be reported via a mobile telephone connection. See Pls.' Mem., Ex. 1 ('654 Patent). A more extended description was provided in the patent materials:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a security system with a mobile telephone for monitoring objects, in particular vehicles and security cases, and a method for operating such a system.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

The monitoring or protecting of objects, in particular vehicles and security cases, is becoming more and more important today. Various security systems are known for protecting vehicles, for example, alarm systems with automatic alarm triggering, at the onset of which a loud horn signal is heard if unauthorized persons attempt to enter the vehicle. But if an unauthorized person is successful in deactivating the alarm system, the vehicle may be stolen, and its recovery frequently becomes an insurmountable problem.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the objective of the invention at hand to propose a security system in which the alarm is reported via a mobile telephone connection.

A further objective is to describe a method for operating a system in which a satellite locating system is included for locating the vehicle.

Id. Col. 1, lns. 5-26.

2. Unitronics' Business

Unitronics designs, develops, manufactures, and sells general purpose PLCs. Unitronics manufactures these PLCs at various sites in Israel and sells them around the world, including in the United States. See Pls.' Responses to Def.'s Interrogatories Nos. 6 & 7 [Dkt. #33]. Specifically, Unitronics sells its PLCs through an international distribution network of more than 100 distributors and through its U.S. subsidiary, Unitronics, Inc. The PLCs sold by Unitronics in the United States include the following series of products (each consisting of numerous models): the M90/M91 Series, the Vision Series, and optional accessories such as expansion units or cellular modems manufactured and sold by third parties (to Unitronics and then by Unitronics to the ultimate purchaser of PLCs). See Pls.' Responses to Def.'s Interrogatories No. 2; Def.'s Civil Statement [Dkt. #28]. Unitronics PLCs can be connected to modems using a variety of cellular communication platforms, including GSM, Wi-Fi (wireless Ethernet), CDMA, TDMA, and iDEN (which are all cellular technologies used by mobile phones),*fn3 to send ...


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