Domino’s can’t raise Uber patent in battle over GPS tracking
Intellectual Property June 19, 2018 10:09 pm By Miklos Bolza | Sydney

A judge has served up a loss for Domino’s Pizza in its ongoing IP battle with Australian tech startup Precision Tracking, dismissing the company’s bid to bolster its case with an Uber patent.

In a judgment handed down Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson rejected the fast food giant’s application to amend its pleadings to claim that a patent held by Uber in the US was a forerunner to the invention behind Precision Tracking’s patents and invalidated them for lack of novelty.

The pizza giant is challenging the validity of two Precision Tracking patents for a GPS system that helps customers locate delivery drivers in real-time. It has accused the company of breaching confidentiality agreements after a three-year partnership between the firms broke down. In a counterclaim, Precision says its patents are valid and have been infringed by Domino’s.

A prior attempt to enter the Uber patent into the proceedings was struck down in October last year, with the court finding then that Precision had insufficient time to respond in the month remaining before the first scheduled trial.

While that trial has since been moved to October 22 this year, Judge Robertson said Domino’s had again raised the claim too late.

“[There] is no persuasive explanation for the delay of some six months since the trial was adjourned,” Judge Robertson said.

Given the fixed timetable for the proceedings, Precision was not able to mount a defence to the new pleadings ahead of the trial, Judge Robertson said.

Judge Robertson also rejected a proposed amended pleading by Domino’s claiming it had rightful ownership of the two contested patents, which it says were developed through a joint partnership between the two firms.

“I am not persuaded that the timing of the application to amend is explained by the contents of the subpoenaed documents and it seems to be very likely that the factual basis of a plea of collaboration or joint ownership in relation to the intellectual property rights as proposed to be pleaded would have been known to Domino’s at or near the time of the events in question,” the judge said.

In its cross-claim, Precision Tracking is also suing Navman Wireless, saying a system developed by Navman and Domino’s after the Precision Tracking agreement had broken down, substantially copied its own systems.

The directors of Precision Tracking, Vladimir Lasky, Nathan Parrott, and Dr Alexander Green, are listed as respondents in Domino’s case.

Domino’s is represented by DLA Piper and Navman by Clayton Utz.

Precision is now represented by Allens, which took over from Corrs Chambers Westgarth in February this year. Precision has also enlisted the assistance of funder Litigation Capital Management to cover its legal costs.

The case is Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited ACN 010 489 326 v Precision Tracking Pty Ltd ACN 133 616 369 & Ors.

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Miklos Bolza

Miklos Bolza has been a journalist for three years. He has written for a variety of publications, including NZ Lawyer, HRD Australia, and Australian Broker. He is currently the Sydney court reporter for Lawyerly.