United States District Court, D. Columbia.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For UNITRONICS 1989 R G LTD., UNITRONICS, INC., Plaintiff: Glenn J. Perry, LEAD ATTORNEY, STERNE, KESSLER, GOLDSTEIN & FOX, PLLC, Washington, DC; Brendan E. Squire, Dale Lischer, Deborah A. Heineman, Todd Douglas Williams, SMITH, GAMBRELL & RUSSELL, LLP, Promenade II, Atlanta, GA.
For UNITRONICS, INC., Plaintiff: Glenn J. Perry, LEAD ATTORNEY, STERNE, KESSLER, GOLDSTEIN & FOX, PLLC, Washington, DC; Brendan E. Squire, Dale Lischer, Deborah A. Heineman, Todd Douglas Williams, SMITH, GAMBRELL & RUSSELL, LLP, Promenade II, Atlanta, GA; Jennifer Leigh Feldman, Stephanie D. Scruggs, SMITH, GAMBRELL & RUSSELL, LLP, Washington, DC.
SAMY GHARB, Defendant, Pro se.
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.
In 2007, this Court held that Unitronics (1989) (R''G) Ltd. and Unitronics, Inc. (collectively, Unitronics) did not infringe U.S. Patent No. 6,552,654, held by Samy Gharb. See Unitronics (1989) (R''G) Ltd. v. Gharb , Civil Case No. 06-27 (Gharb I ), 511 F.Supp.2d 123 (D.D.C. 2007). It subsequently entered an injunction to enjoin Mr. Gharb from asserting infringement of his patent or interfering with the contractual relations between Unitronics and its customers by referring to his patent. Gharb I, 532 F.Supp.2d 25 (D.D.C. 2008); see id., Order [Dkt. 79] (Injunction Order). However, eight years later, Mr. Gharb continues to harass Unitronics and file complaints asserting infringement of the same patent. Unitronics now moves for a contempt judgment and sanctions based on Mr. Gharb's violation of the Injunction Order. Unitronics also seeks to dismiss Complaints filed by Mr. Gharb in two related cases. For reasons set forth below, the Court will find Mr. Gharb in contempt,
will award sanctions to Unitronics, and will grant dismissal.
Unitronics initially sued Samy Gharb in this Court on January 10, 2006, alleging that Mr. Gharb " repeatedly and harassingly contacted" the company because of his belief that it had infringed his patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,552,654 ('654 Patent). Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 18. Unitronics sought a declaratory judgment of non-infringement. On September 25, 2007, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion holding that Unitronics had not infringed the '654 Patent. See Gharb I, 511 F.Supp.2d at 126.
On November 1, 2007, Unitronics filed a motion for injunctive relief to prevent Mr. Gharb from continuing to assert infringement of the '654 Patent. After briefing on the matter, the Court issued a permanent injunction on January 30, 2008, ordering that:
Defendant, Samy Gharb, his affiliated companies, officers, directors, agents, and representatives, and each of them are immediately and permanently enjoined from: (1) communicating threats or assertions of infringement based on the subject matter claimed in United States Patent Number 6,552,654, against Plaintiffs or Plaintiffs' customers based on their manufacture, use, sell, offers to sell, or importation of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs); (2) bringing suit under United States Patent Number 6,552,654, against Unitronics or Unitronics' customers based on their manufacture, use, sale, offers to sell, or importation of PLCs; and (3) interfering with the contractual relations between Unitronics and their customers in any fashion by referring to United States Patent 6,552,654. . . .
Gharb I, Injunction Order at 1. Mr. Gharb appealed the Injunction Order and, on December 3, 2008, the Federal Circuit affirmed " [b]ecause [it] agree[d] with the district court that Unitronics does not infringe the '654 patent." Unitronics 1989 RG Ltd. v. Gharb, 318 F.App'x 902, 903 (Fed. Cir. 2008) ( Gharb II ).
Nonetheless, on September 29, 2014, Mr. Gharb filed two lawsuits in this district generally alleging infringement of the '654 patent by Unitronics and other entities. See Gharb v. Unitronics, Inc. , Civil Case Nos. 14-1635 (RMC) ( Gharb III ) and 14-1636 (RMC) (Gharb IV). The Complaints include multiple references to programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and the global system for mobile communications (GSM), which were the technologies addressed in the Court's prior decisions and the Injunction Order. Unitronics moved to dismiss both cases arguing, inter alia, that this Court's permanent injunction barred Mr. Gharb from bringing any claim relating to the '654 patent. See Gharb III, Motion to Dismiss Complaint [Dkt. 6]; Gharb IV, Motion to Dismiss Complaint [Dkt. 4]. Mr. Gharb filed (and continues to file) multiple motions and other
responses to Unitronics' motions to dismiss, none of which addresses the fact that he is enjoined from bringing these lawsuits. See Gharb III, Dkt. Nos. 8, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27; Gharb IV, Dkt Nos. 8, 9, 14, 15. Instead, his pleadings reiterate claims made in his Complaints in those cases and include muddled accusations that Haim Shani, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unitronics, falsely represented himself as the owner of various trademarks relating to the technologies at issue in the underlying case, and that various lawyers hid trademark documents and do not " respect" trademark law. Id.
On January 15, 2015, Unitronics filed a motion for a contempt judgment in Gharb I on the ground that Mr. Gharb was pursuing litigation based on the '654 Patent in violation of the Injunction Order. See Gharb I, Mot. for Judgment of Contempt [Dkt. 90] (Contempt Motion). Unitronics asks the Court to find Mr. Gharb in contempt of the Injunction Order and award sanctions, including attorney fees incurred as a result of having to defend against the ongoing litigation.
On January 21, 2015, the Court ordered Mr. Gharb to show cause, no later than March 6, 2015, why (1) the Court should not grant Unitronics' motion, find Mr. Gharb in contempt, and impose sanctions upon him; and (2) the Court should not grant Unitronics' motions to dismiss Civil Case Nos. 14-1635 and 14-1636. See Order to Show Cause, Gharb I, Dkt. 91; Gharb III, Dkt. 18; Gharb IV, Dkt. 12. Mr. Gharb filed numerous responses (many of which are identical to those filed in Gharb III and Gharb IV ), generally arguing that Unitronics infringed the '654 Patent and seeking monetary damages. See Gharb I, Dkt. Nos. 92-96, 98. His pleadings also refer to the PLCs and GSM technologies at issue in the original case, and contain allegations concerning allegedly false statements and hidden trademarks.
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Motion for Contempt Judgment
Courts have inherent authority to enforce compliance with their orders through contempt proceedings. See Broderick v. Donaldson, 437 F.3d 1226, 1234, 369 U.S.App.D.C. 374
(D.C. Cir. 2006)
(" 'The power to punish for contempts is inherent in all courts; its existence is essential to . . . the enforcement of the judgments, orders, and writs of the courts, and consequently to the due administration of justice.'" ) (quoting Ex parte Robinson, 86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 505, 510, 22 L.Ed. 205 (1874)); accord FG Hemisphere Assocs., LLC v. Democratic Republic of Congo, 637 F.3d 373, 377, 394 U.S.App.D.C. 439 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (" It is incontrovertible that federal courts enjoy inherent ...