Federal court sides with maker of CowManager technology in patent infringement lawsuit

By Jessica Karmasek | Jun 30, 2015

SCR and VocalTag filed their lawsuit against Agis Automatisering B.V. in 2013

The Robert W. Kastenmeier U.S. Courthouse in Madison, Wis.  

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin this month said the maker of electronic cattle monitoring system CowManager did not infringe on patents owned by SCR Engineers Ltd. and VocalTag Ltd.

SCR and VocalTag, both based in Israel, filed their patent infringement lawsuit against Netherlands-based Agis Automatisering B.V. in the federal court in September 2013.

Although it does not have any offices in the U.S., Agis sells its CowManager system in the Wisconsin district.

The companies contend Agis, one of their competitors, infringed on U.S. Patent Nos. 7,350,481 and 7,878,149. VocalTag is the owner of the ‘481 patent. SCR, the owner of the ‘149 patent and licensee of the ‘481 patent, sells a cattle monitoring system in the U.S. under the name “Heatime.”

SCR and VocalTag, in their lawsuit, said Agis’ CowManager SensOor system utilizes mathematical algorithms to determine the meaning of specific measured movements. These same measurements are made and recorded by the devices and methods that are protected by the infringed claims of the ‘481 and ‘149 patents, the companies argued.

Judge James Peterson, in his 28-page ruling, said Agis did not infringe either of the patents.

“Plaintiffs’ argument is implausible, undeveloped, and supported only by inadmissible evidence,” he wrote in his opinion and order.

Peterson said the claimed system involves counting and timing individual chews, while the CowManager system does neither.

The judge said Agis’ system also determines estrus in a manner other than that claimed in the ‘149 patent. Estrus is a state that lasts about five to 10 hours and occurs about every 19 to 23 days. Cows in estrus typically are more physically active and receptive to mating.

“The CowManager system performs a statistical analysis of data sampled from the accelerometer in the SensOor ear tag. The system determines when the sampled data shows an unusually high level of physical activity for a cow, and when certain criteria are met, it deems the monitored cow to be in estrus,” Peterson wrote. “But the level of physical activity of the cow is not expressed by the energy level of the signal from the accelerometer, and at no point is the energy level of the accelerometer signal attenuated.”

The judge granted Agis’ motion for summary judgment of non-infringement and no willful infringement in his June 4 order; however, he dismissed the company’s counterclaims for declaratory judgment of invalidity.

In a statement, Agis said it was pleased with the court’s ruling.

The company noted that its founder and CEO, Gerard Griffioen, has invested “significant” resources and “years” of dairy farming knowledge in the development of CowManager.

Agis described the CowManager’s SensOor -- an ear tag with heat detection and health and nutrition monitoring capabilities -- as “revolutionary.” The company noted that it’s used by a “large and rapidly growing” number of farmers nationwide.

“CowManager will continue its focus on developing and marketing innovative and high-tech solutions for large dairy herds,” Agis said.

The company has a 30-year history of developing technology solutions for dairy farmers and was founded by multi-generation dairy farmers in Harmelen, Netherlands.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at patents@legalnewsline.com.

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