Over 200 trucking companies were named as defendants last week in a lawsuit filed over patent infringement for GPS-based vehicle tracking technology by PJC Logistics. According to recent legal documents filed in 8 federal court districts across the US, PJC Logistics LLC is claiming to be the sole owner of the GPS vehicle tracking technology patent (US Patent No. 5,223,844) and that other users of the GPS vehicle tracking technology are doing so without legal permission. PJC Logistics is claiming that each of the carriers they are suing either “uses or directs others to use its electronic location-based fleet management and tracking system in its fleet of vehicles.”
211 trucking companies are named as defendants in the lawsuit, but many more companies are reported to actually be using the fleet management technology. No one knows why certain companies are being targeted, while others are not. The legal documents do not disclose the basis for selecting carriers, according to Commercial Carrier Journal.
The patent in the lawsuit was filed by John P. Mansell and William M. Riley, on June 29, 1993, in Dallas, TX. Mr. Mansell had started a company, Auto-Trac, to develop the concept. Shortly after he died, just a few months before the patent was issued.
His widow, Reba Mansell, later sold Auto-Trac to E-Systems. Included in the sale of the business was a contract that would pay as royalties to Ms. Mansell, 4 percent of revenues for 10 years. After Raytheon purchased the business from E-Systems, they did not continue to pay Ms. Mansell.
In 2003, Mansell won a $6.8 million jury verdict against Raytheon for failure to pay the required royalties on sales of the automated vehicle location tracking system based on her husband’s invention. The jury also ruled that Raytheon violated its contract with Reba Mansell by selling the business to Orbital Sciences Corp. without her consent.It was not immediately clear how PJC Logistics came to own the patent.
For a list of the defendants in the case, click here.
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