Ocado Group won a pivotal trial victory in its patent dispute with AutoStore, as the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in Ocado’s favor after a bench trial. The judge unequivocally found in favor of Ocado on all 20 asserted patent claims across four patents. After the trial, AutoStore sought review from the full ITC. On March 10, 2022, the Commission unanimously affirmed Ocado’s victory at trial and terminated the investigation in its entirety.
Britain's Ocado has been engaged in a global patent battle with Norwegian rival AutoStore over robot storage and retrieval technology. This dispute dates back to 2020, when Ocado announced an exclusive deal with The Kroger Company to build automated grocery warehouses throughout the United States. Soon after, AutoStore sued Ocado, alleging patent infringement.
In his December 13, 2021, ruling, Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles Bullock found that three of AutoStore's patents are invalid and that Ocado did not infringe the fourth patent at issue. If the judge had sided with AutoStore on any of its claims, he could have recommended that the Commission block or limit the types of robots that Ocado could import into the United States.
The ruling bodes well for Ocado in related litigation with AutoStore in federal courts in Virginia and New Hampshire. In those cases, Ocado is defending against substantially the same patent infringement claims as well as asserting its own patent infringement claims and a Sherman Act Section 2 claim alleging that AutoStore is asserting fraudulently obtained patents.
The team representing Ocado is led by Garrard Beeney, Marc De Leeuw and Dustin Guzior, who were named runners-up for The American Lawyer “Litigator of the Week” for this result. The team also includes Steve Elliott, Laurie Stempler, Alex Gross and Morgan Schusterman.
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