Chrimar Systems (also known as CMS Technologies) is a non-practicing entity that owns patents that it claims are essential to IEEE Power-over-Ethernet technology — amendments 802.3af and 802.3at to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard. Chrimar has litigated several cases throughout the years based on these patents, including a (now-terminated) ITC case (Inv. No. 337-TA-817). Chrimar’s website lists several licensees for its Power-over-Ethernet patents, as well.
But now it looks like Chrimar’s standard-essential portfolio just got a little bit smaller. Yesterday, in Chrimar Systems v. Foundry Networks (now Brocade Communications Systems), the Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that had invalidated claims 14 and 17 of U.S. Patent No. 5,406,260. Chrimar had previously declared this patent as essential to the IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet standard, and Foundry/Brocade’s compliance with 802.3af formed the basis for Chrimar’s infringement allegations. Foundry/Brocade moved for summary judgment of invalidity, and the district court judge adopted a special master’s recommendation that the two asserted claims of the ‘260 patent be held invalid in light of the prior art — claim 14 as anticipated, and claim 17 as obvious.
In affirming the district court, the Federal Circuit only issued a brief Rule 36 summary affirmance (which contains no explanation of its reasoning), so we have provided links to the special master’s R&R and the district court judge’s decision below: