A district judge has denied a request for a preliminary injunction against a contractor working on the $250 million Paulsboro port project, clearing the way for dredging to continue in the Delaware River.
Texas-based TDM America LLC asked the U.S District Court of New Jersey to stop dredging work in the Delaware River by Cranford-based Weeks Marine Inc., claiming the New Jersey contractor was infringing on a patent used in dredging and materials-treatment processes. On Dec. 14, Judge Esther Salas denied TDM’s request, saying there was insufficient evidence of irreparable harm to TDM, though the case continues and might eventually go to trial.
“The implications of this lawsuit are that, hopefully, a clear message has been delivered by a well-respected federal district judge that this patent is not what TDM believes it to be,” said David E. De Lorenzi, chair of the intellectual property department at Newark-based law firm Gibbons PC, which represents Weeks, a third-generation marine and tunneling company.
Marine Weeks’ dredging work at the Port of Paulsboro is part of a multiphase project creating a 190-acre deepwater port and marine terminal on a former brownfields site in the Gloucester County borough, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia International Airport.
TDM has been an aggressive litigant, suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other defendants over the patent in this case and other patents, with slight success, De Lorenzi said. In July, Weeks Marine sued TDM for a judgment that the patent is invalid and that it has not infringed on the patent.
“It’s understandable why you want to avoid patent litigation,” De Lorenzi said.
“It’s also understandable why sometimes, it’s just better to take a license or pay a fee to avoid litigation. But there are those times, however, that where it makes sense — not just on a principle basis, but on a business basis — to put your foot down and defend yourself.”