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Safespan Awarded $5.25M in Patent Case

Monday, November 3, 2014

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After nearly eight years, a leading U.S. manufacturer of bridge platforms and scaffolding has prevailed in a legal battle to protect two critical patents against an employee-turned-competitor.

A federal-court judge in New York has upheld Safespan Platform Systems Inc. of Tonawanda, NY, in its longrunning litigation against former employee Anastasios G. Hatsios and his Buffalo-based companies: EZ Access Inc. and, later, Bridgeplatforms Inc.

SafespanPlatform
Photos: Safespan Platform Systems Inc.

Safespan was awarded more than $5 million for infringements on two platform patents.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara has ordered Hatsios, Bridgeplatforms and other principals of that company to pay a total of $5.25 million—one judgment of $1.5 million and one of $3.75 million—to Safespan, owner Lambros Apostolopoulos, and platform system designer Paul Kristen Inc.

Theft Alleged

Safespan's lawsuit, filed Oct. 31, 2006, alleged patent infringement related to the design of its platforms, which are made to be assembled under a bridge deck to support workers performing maintenance and other work on the bridge.

The platform system involves individual flooring panels that are laid upon horizontal cables that extend beneath the bridge.

Safespan obtained two patents for the system on Oct. 24, 2000, and Oct. 16, 2001.

Hatsios went to work for Safespan on March 1, 1996, and left Jan. 19, 2003, to form his own company. Safespan accused Hatsios of stealing both customer lists and information about Safespan's platform designs while employed there.

'Mimics Everything'

Earlier this year, Arcara agreed that the Hatsios's designs infringed. Indeed, the judge concluded, the issue wasn't even close.

SafespanContainment

The system sold by former Safespan employee Anastasios Hatsios "mimics everything" in equipment patented by Safespan (pictured), the court found.

"Undisputed documentary evidence shows the extent to which Bridgeplatforms’s system includes each and every element, limitation, and feature of [Safespan's] Claim 1," the court found.

After reviewing both companies' designs in detail, the court said that the Bridgeplatforms system "mimics everything" Safeplan contemplated in its complaint.

In fact, the court wrote: "If a reasonable jury read Claim 1 first and then, hypothetically, read a copy of the
Bridgeplatforms installation booklet and hardware catalog with the word 'Bridgeplatforms' redacted, then it would conclude that plaintiffs wrote those documents.

"No reasonable jury could conclude otherwise."

Judgment Award

After Arcara decided the liability issue in the spring, a separate trial focused on damages was held over the summer.

That judgment was returned in late September and released last week.

Hatsios said Friday (Oct. 31) in a phone call that he was "happy with the settlement."

Safespan did not reply to a request for comment.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Bridges; Design; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Laws and litigation; North America; Safespan; Work platform

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