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Fri October 30 2020

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US rental company sues over alleged patent infringement

16 Oct US construction equipment supplier Ahern Rentals has filed a lawsuit alleging that rival EquipmentShare has infringed its patent for technology that tracks and controls rental plant.

An Ahern depot
An Ahern depot

Las Vegas-based Ahern Rentals, which leases earthmovers, bulldozers and other major construction machines, has sued Missouri-based EquipmentShare in the Eastern District of Texas.

The case concerns a patent that allows Ahern, as the equipment’s owner, to limit equipment use to the period of time paid for by the renter. A pre-programmed authorisation code goes into effect at the start of the rental period and expires at the end, after which the equipment no longer responds to attempts at operation. The technology also permits remote lockdown of the equipment if any attempt is detected to disable the authorisation code.

Ahern’s complaint seeks damages as well as an injunction against EquipmentShare’s further exploitation of technology based on Ahern’s patent.

The lawsuit asserts that EquipmentShare has waged a four-year campaign of misinformation, trade-secret theft and employee poaching against Ahern.

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The patent at issue in Ahern’s lawsuit, US Patent No. 9,133,330 and titled ‘Method and a System for Controlling and Monitoring Operation of a Device’, is owned by Ahern since rights were transferred to the company by its inventor, Daniel Abshire.

Ahern’s complaint alleges that around 2016 a pair of EquipmentShare executives, who had previously known and done business with Abshire and were aware of the patent, proposed a meeting between the inventor and EquipmentShare co-founder Jabbock Schlacks.

Ahern’s lawsuit contends that a fix to EquipmentShare’s own tracking system was accomplished with information gleaned from the meeting with Abshire, and infringes on his patent.

The complaint is captioned Ahern Rentals, Inc. v EquipmentShare.com, Inc. Ahern is represented in the lawsuit by the Dallas office of national law firm McKool Smith. 

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