Raytheon Co. will have another opportunity to pursue an intellectual property lawsuit against Flir Systems Inc. Raytheon alleges that the company’s Indigo Systems unit stole trade secrets regarding its infrared technology.
In 2004, Raytheon obtained an Indigo infrared camera and, after disassembling it, “found what it believed was evidence of patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation,” according to court documents. The suit was filed in 2007, within the three-year statute of limitations.
However, a federal court in Texas dismissed the case after determining that Raytheon waited too long to file its complaint. It found that Raytheon should have suspected the theft as early as 2000 when key employees left Raytheon for Indigo and Indigo started to win key defense contracts.
In a recent ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed, finding the lower court erred in dismissing the case. “It was for the jury and not for the district court to determine when Raytheon should have first discovered the facts supporting its cause of action,” the opinion stated.
The appellate panel further noted that the lower court placed too high a burden on Raytheon. “The district court essentially concluded that from 2000 on, Raytheon was on permanent inquiry notice and therefore had a constant duty to investigate all acts of competition by Indigo for evidence of misappropriation,” the panel wrote.
The decision allows Raytheon to pursue its claims for theft of trade secrets and misappropriation of intellectual property.