Court Rules in Favor of Detroit Diesel

After nearly four years of litigation, a federal appeals court affirmed an earlier ruling that Detroit Diesel Corp. did not infringe on patents held by Caterpillar Inc.

"It is gratifying to achieve the appropriate result," said John Farmer, vice president and general counsel for Detroit Diesel.

The lawsuit, filed in June 1995, alleged that Detroit Diesel's cruise power feature, an electronic control option available on the company's Series 60 engine, infringed on a Caterpillar patent.

The discovery phase of the case dragged on for more than two years and involved nearly 500 separate docket filings, Farmer said.

"The judge said he was measuring the paperwork in feet," he said.

In April 1998, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana granted a motion by Detroit Diesel for a summary judgment in its favor. That action was affirmed May 17 by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

"We are pleased it's over," said Farmer. "We would rather compete in the marketplace than in the courtroom."

Attorneys for Caterpillar were not available for comment.