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ANGSTROHM PRECISION, INC. v. VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOG

September 22, 1982

ANGSTROHM PRECISION, INC., and Angstrohm Precision of California, Inc., Plaintiffs,
v.
VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOGY, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COSTANTINO

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

COSTANTINO, District Judge.

 The plaintiffs, Angstrohm Precision, Inc., and Angstrohm Precision of California, Inc., have moved for partial summary judgment before this court. The plaintiffs request the invocation of the doctrine of collateral estoppel to preclude the relitigation of issues claimed to have been litigated, tried before a jury, and determined in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia before the Honorable Albert V. Bryan, Jr. in the case entitled: Societe Francaise De L'Electro-Resistance and Resistor Research Corporation v. Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., Civ. Action No. 79338-A (E.D.Va.1979) ("Sfernice"). For the reasons set forth below, plaintiffs' motion is hereby denied in all respects.

 FACTS

 The plaintiff Angstrohm Precision, Inc. is a Maryland corporation. The plaintiff Angstrohm Precision of California, Inc. is a California corporation and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Angstrohm Precision, Inc. (Hereinafter, the plaintiffs are jointly referred to as "Angstrohm.") Angstrohm is engaged in manufacturing and selling high reliability electronic components including circuits, rheostats, and a variety of resistors, particularly hermetically sealed glass encapsulated metal film resistors. The defendant Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. ("Vishay") is a Delaware corporation engaged in manufacturing a variety of resistive products including precision resistors incorporating metal film technology, resistor networks, photoelastic instruments, products used in the field of stress analysis commonly referred to as strain gauges and other stress analysis tools.

 The gravamen of the instant complaint is that the defendant has unlawfully monopolized the market for metal foil resistors and unlawfully attempted to monopolize the markets for both metal foil resistors and "precision resistors." The complaint delineates the market for metal foil resistors as embodying only metal foil resistors such as those allegedly manufactured by the defendant since 1962. The broader "precision resistor" market includes, in addition to the metal foil resistors, metal-film resistors as well as wire-wound resistors.

 In the context of plaintiffs' monopolization claims, the plaintiffs assert that the defendant should be collaterally stopped from litigating issues relating to the following methods allegedly employed by Vishay in the achievement and maintenance of its market position: (1) procuring patents fraudulently and filing false oaths with the Patent Office with respect to those patents; (2) instituting illegal proceedings in the Patent Office and filing false oaths with respect thereto; (3) preventing others from manufacturing, selling or distributing metal foil resistors by the assertion of rights under its fraudulently procured patents; (4) engaging in acts of industrial espionage; (5) asserting erroneous and fraudulent claims with respect to certain purported confidential know-how; and (6) entering into several licensing agreements whereby world markets for the metal foil resistor were divided and whereby all other manufacturers and distributors were excluded from the United States market. The proposed estoppel is based upon a judgment vacated subject to a stipulation by the parties in the Sfernice action.

 The SFERNICE Litigation

 The Sfernice litigation was commenced on April 20, 1979. The plaintiff in that action -- Societe Francaise de l'Electro-Resistance ("Sfer") -- was a French corporation engaged in the sale of electronic resistors. As alleged in the Sfernice complaint, the Sfernice action grew out of a collaborative and competitive relationship between Sfer and Vishay originating in licensing and sales agreements. Under these agreements, Sfer, the largest resistor manufacturer in France, contracted to purchase resistor chips from Vishay. Sfer's claims in Sfernice fell within three categories: Count I alleging monopolization and attempted monopolization; Count II alleging violation of the Lanham Act; and Count III entitled "unfair competition." Vishay denied these allegations and counterclaimed for, inter alia, theft of trade secrets as well as breach of a licensing agreement.

 The Sfernice trial itself focused on the allegations of monopolization and attempted monopolization. After trial by jury a verdict was returned in favor of Sfernice in the sum of $1,500,000, which was automatically trebled under 15 U.S.C. Section 15.

 In December 1979, Judge Bryan denied Vishay's motions for judgement notwithstanding the verdict, for a new trial and for a remittitur. Also, Judge Bryan denied Sfer's motion pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 54(b) for an express direction for the entry of judgment on the verdict rendered. Vishay's counterclaims had previously been severed and set for a separate jury trial to begin January 28, 1980. However, the counterclaims were never tried because by order dated May 13, 1980 Judge Bryan dismissed the complaint and counterclaims with prejudice, and vacated the verdict and judgment on Sfer's claims pursuant to the parties' stipulation of settlement entered subsequent thereto.

 The settlement agreement incorporated in the joint stipulation granted Vishay patent licenses to Sfer, and provided, inter alia, for Sfer to pay Vishay royalties on Sfer foil resistor products. The agreement also provided for the withdrawal or discontinuation of numerous suits between Sfer and Vishay in the state and federal courts, before the International Trade Commission and in France.

 The instant action was commenced on March 11, 1980. Thereafter, plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on the ground of collateral estoppel based ...


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