Iconic Maine map maker DeLorme hit with $6.2 million patent infringement fine

Posted June 10, 2014, at 5:50 p.m.
Last modified June 10, 2014, at 8:15 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Federal trade officials have hit the maker of the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer with a $6.2 million civil penalty in response to a patent-infringement complaint brought by a Virginia company.

The U.S. International Trade Commission issued the ruling against Yarmouth-based DeLorme on Monday, penalizing the company for what it determined were 227 days of importing and selling its inReach 1.5 and inReach SE devices in violation of a consent order with the Virginia-based BriarTek, which has a patent on a system for two-way text communication through a satellite infrastructure.

Kim Stiver, DeLorme’s vice president of marketing, said the company expects receiving the full briefing and opinion from the trade commission will take at least a week. Peter Brann, the company’s attorney, confirmed Tuesday that the company “will certainly appeal” the ruling.

Though the company may appeal the ruling, it stands to be a major blow to its plans to transition from a focus on print maps to satellite-based navigation and mapping devices.

In March, an administrative law judge reviewing BriarTek’s 2012 complaint against DeLorme and UK-based Yellowbrick Tracking Ltd. found that DeLorme had induced infringement on BriarTek’s patent by selling its inReach 1.5 devices containing certain imported technology.

The consent agreement with BriarTek stipulated DeLorme “will not import into the United States, sell for importation into the United States, or sell or offer for sale within the United States after importation any two-way global satellite communication devices, system and components thereof” that infringe BriarTek’s patent, No. 7,991,380.

The judge found no violation in connection with inReach SE sales and recommended a civil penalty, to be paid to the government, of $637,500 against DeLorme.

In April, the commission decided to vacate most of the administrative law judge’s decision, according to the decision issued Monday. The move expanded the extent of DeLorme’s violations and set the stage for a much larger fine than initially recommended.

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