Articles Posted in Design Patent

South Bend, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Williamsburg Furniture, Inc. (“Williamsburg”) of Nappanee, Indiana originally filed suit in the District Court of Delaware seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement against Defendant, Lippert Components, Inc. (“Lippert”) claiming Lippert’s United States Patent No. 8,739,330 (the “‘330 Patent”) is invalid and/or unenforceable. Williamsburg is also seeking judgment for false advertising and unfair competition as it claims Lippert informed Williamsburg’s customers of the alleged patent infringement and caused Williamsburg to lose sales. Upon motion by Lippert, the case was transferred to the Northern District of Indiana.

According to the Complaint, the invention claimed in the ‘330 Patent for a tri-fold sofa was publicly disclosed, in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public through third parties not associated with the ‘330 invention more than one year prior to the filing of the provisional patent application. For instance, Patrick Hutmacher claims he purchased a tri-fold chair/bed in August 2010 from a furniture store in McHenry. One month later, a person from the McHenry furniture store allegedly brought a second tri-fold chair/bed to Mr. Hutmacher at his place of employment, Flair Interiors, Inc. (“Flair”), in an attempt to supply the products to the company.

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This suit is over the design of two bottle caps.

Plaintiff, Closure, claims it designed the bottle cap on the left, and Defendant, Novembal, got a patent on the bottle cap on the right.  But Closure claims that it, not Novembal is the actual “inventor” of the bottle cap design.  Perhaps fearing that Novembal was about to file suit, Closure in its home turf of New Jersey and trying to gain a home court advantage, took the initiative and sued Novembal in Indiana.  Its Complaint sought to “correct the inventorship” of Novembal’s patent and to prevent Novembal from enforcing the patent against Closure. That suit is reported here:  Closure Systems International Sues Novembal USA Seeking Correction of Inventorship.  Not surpisingly, Novembal asserted a counterclaim for patent infringement.

Photo-300x142The twist is that in the infringement counterclaim, Novembal seeks a broad injunction.  So broad, that it would prevent not just Closure, but some of Closure’s customers from infringing the patent.  In its counterclaim, Novembal seeks:

A permanent injunction enjoining CSI and its employees, agents, successors, partners, officers, directors, owners, shareholders, principals, subsidiaries, related companies, affiliates, distributors, dealers, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them . . . from making, importing, promoting, offering, or exposing for sale, or selling the CSI Production Closures, or any other closures with designs confusingly similar to the claimed design of Novembal’s ‘442 patent.

One company that apparently gets its bottle caps from Closure is Nestle, one of the biggest sellers of bottled water.  So far, no big deal.  Except, Nestle is represented by the blue chip Washington DC patent law firm, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner.  Finnegan happens to be the same law firm that represents Novembal in the suit with Closure.  So Finnegan is attempting to get an injunction for one client (Novembal) that would apply to another client, Nestle. Continue reading

Hammond, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, FAM N.V. (“FAM”) of Belgium, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Urschel Laboratories, Inc. (“Urschel”) of Chesterton, Indiana, infringed its rights in United States Patent No. D730,703 (the “D‘703 Patent”) entitled “Knife Holder”. FAM is seeking judgment, consequential and compensatory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, and any other relief the Court deems proper.

Photo-300x162FAM claims to be a world leader in designing, developing, and manufacturing of cutting solutions for the food industry. According to the Complaint, the D’703 Patent was issued to Brent L. Bucks on June 2, 2015 and was later assigned to FAM. FAM alleges the “25883 Urschel® USA” product is an example of a knife holder that has infringed the D’703 Patent. Further, FAM claims Urschel’s alleged infringement of the D’703 Patent is “willful, deliberate, and objectively reckless.” As such, FAM is seeking damages pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 284 or 35 U.S.C. § 289, and is requesting the case be considered “exceptional” under 35 U.S.C. § 285.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion as to Summary Judgment in the case of Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. (“Columbia”), an Oregon Corporation, versus Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc. (“Seirus”), a Utah Corporation. This appeal by Seirus-logo-300x289 Columbia came after a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found that claims 2 and 23 of U.S. Patent 8,453,270 (the “’270 Patent”) are invalid as anticipated and obvious. Seirus cross-appealed from the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon’s grant of summary judgment that it infringes U.S. Patent D657,093 (the “’093 Patent”) and from the entry of the jury’s damages award. The Court of Appeals found claims 2 and 23 of the ‘270 Patent are invalid and that the Court for the District of Oregon erred in granting summary judgment for infringement of the ‘093 Patent.

Columbia originally filed suit in the District of Oregon on January 12, 2015 claiming that Seirus infringed both the ‘270 and ‘093 Patents. Seirus moved to transfer the case to the Southern District of California, but that motion was denied. The district court then “granted summary judgment that Seirus’s HeatWave products infringe the ‘093 patent” stating that “the difference in wave pattern, orientation, and the presence of Seirus’s logo” were characterized as “minor differences.” Seirus moved to transfer the case to the Southern District of California for a second time, two years after its first motion, in light of the decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brans LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017). Due to the intervening case law, the District of Oregon transferred the remainder of the claims to the Southern District of California.

A jury trial wPatent-Design-Logo-274x300as held in the Southern District of California and claims 2 and 3 of the ‘270 Patent were found to be invalid as anticipated and obvious. The jury also awarded Columbia $3,018,174 in damages for non-willful infringement of the ‘093 Patent. Both Parties “filed post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial, but the court summarily denied them in a two-page opinion.” Subsequently, the Parties each filed notices of appeal.

The court’s denial of the motions for judgment as a matter of law is reviewed by the substantial evidence standard. “A jury’s verdict must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence.” OTR Wheel Eng’g, Inc. v. W. Worldwide Servs. Inc., 897 F.3d 1008, 1015 (9th Cir. 2018) (citing Unicolors, Inc. v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., 853 F.3d 980, 984 (9th Cir. 2017). The court’s denial of a motion for a new trial is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 728 (9th Cir. 2007). The granting of a new trial may only be done “if the verdict is contrary to the clear weight of the evidence, is based upon false or perjurious evidence, or to prevent a miscarriage of justice.” Passantino v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Prods., Inc., 212 F.3d 493, 510 n.15 (9th Cir. 2000). Continue reading

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Closure Systems International, Inc. (“CSI”) of Indianapolis, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana seeking a correction in inventorship for two U.S. Design Patents issued to Defendant, Novembal USA Inc. (“Novembal”) of Edison, New Jersey. The patents at issue in this case are United States Patent Nos. D836,442 (the “‘442 Patent”) and Closure-BlogPhoto-300x279D838,171 (the “‘171 Patent”) (collectively the “Patents in Suit”). CSI is seeking preliminary and/or permanent injunctions, attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other relief the Court deems proper.

CSI claims three of its employees, Arnold Benecke, Bill Moll, and John Edie, developed a closure for a bottle (the “Option 2 Closure”) for its customer, Nestle Waters (“Nestle”) on or about January 27, 2011. This invention was allegedly assigned to CSI pursuant to assignments from the three inventors. According to the Complaint, on March 9, 2011, CSI sent a presentation concerning the Option 2 Closure and another option to Nestle that stated that it would have “Prototypes molded by April 1” and “Small quantity of slit samples will be sent by April 13”. CSI claims it emailed Nestle a drawing of the Option 2 Closure on March 10, 2011.

CSI claims Nestle trialed different closures from CSI and at least two other competitors, including Novembal, and CSI delivered 100 samples of the Option 2 Closure to Nestle in or about June 2011. CSI alleges each of the manufacturers at the Nestle trials witnessed each closure and saw all the samples provided to Nestle. After the trials, Nestle awarded the business to Novembal, not CSI.

According to the Complaint, Nestle asked CSI to replace Novembal and inquired as to its ability to supply the Option 2 Closure in early 2018. CSI claims it began supplying a similar closure to the Option 2 Closure to Nestle, but it was slightly different (the “New Closure”). On or about May 24, 2019, CSI claims it was informed by Nestle that the New Closure infringed one or more Novembal patents. Just six days later, Novembal allegedly sent a cease and desist letter to CSI stating that the New Closure infringed the ‘442 Patent.

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This case, originally filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on claims of patent infringement, was brought on appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming the district court’s summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellee, Ford Global Technologies, LLC (“Ford”), and against Plaintiff-Appellant, Automotive Body Parts Association (“Automotive”). The originally sealed opinion was issued on July 11, 2019 but was unsealed in full on July 23, 2019.

Ford owns U.S. Patent No. D489,299 (the “D’299 Patent”) and U.S. Patent No. D501,685 (the “D’685 Patent”) for “Exterior of Vehicle Hood”Ford-BlogPhoto-300x138 and “Vehicle Head Lamp”, respectively. These design patents were invented by artists that allegedly selected part designs for the Ford F-150 truck on based on aesthetic appearance alone and not a functional purpose. Automotive is comprised of a group of companies that distribute automotive parts.

Conflict between Automotive and Ford allegedly occurred when Ford accused several Automotive members of infringing the D’299 and D’685 Patents, among others, before the International Trade Commission (“ITC”). The administrative law judge in the ITC proceedings ruled that “‘respondents’ [invalidity] defense that the asserted patents do not comply with the ornamentality requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 171 has no basis in the law’ and that ‘there is no legal basis for respondents’ assertion of [unenforceability based on] either the patent exhaustion or permissible repair doctrines’”. The ITC action settled after the administrative law judge’s ruling.

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Engineered by Schildmeier, LLC of Anderson, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Amazing Parts Warehouse (d/b/a several different names) of Lexington, Kentucky, and Wuhn Xuelang Auto Parts Co., Ltd. of China, infringed its rights in United States Patent No. D 816,584 (“the ‘584 Patent”) for a “Pair of Bed Rail StakeBlogPhoto-300x225 Pocket Covers”. Plaintiff is seeking judgment including damages, pre and post-judgment interests and costs.

Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have been offering to sell products on Amazon, eBay, and other various sites since February 2018. Amazon has taken down the advertisements when shown the ‘584 Patent. After a bit of time, Amazing Parts Warehouse then re-advertises the same product under a different dba. Amazon removes the new advertisements as they are reported and the cycle repeats almost monthly. The advertisements on eBay have not been removed as eBay refuses to act on validity of patents without Court direction. Plaintiff continues to send Cease and Desist letters to Defendants through Amazon and eBay as well as contact with their websites and the U.S. Postal Service.

Count I of the Complaint asserts federal patent infringement as the Plaintiff’s and Defendants’ bed rail stake pocket covers are as they claim, not only identical, but substantially the same leading to customer confusion. Count II claims trade dress infringement in violation of Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). The third count seeks declaratory judgment of both the design patent and trade dress validity. Next, Plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment of infringement and validity of trade dress. The final count asserts unfair competition under Indiana state law. Plaintiff claims that they have lost nearly $100,000 in lost profits since the Defendants began selling their counterfeit products in February and they continue to lose a minimum of $3,000 in profits per week.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Taylor Precision Products, Inc. of Oak Brook, Illinois, and The Chef’n Corporation of Seattle, Washington, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Double A Concepts, LLC of Mooresville, Indiana, Aaron Farnsworth of Mooresville, Indiana, and Gemini Farnsworth of Mooresville, Indiana, infringed their rights in United States Patent No. 9,718,198 (“the ‘198198Patent-300x244 Patent”) for “Stripping Tool for Leafy Vegetables and Herbs” and United States Patent No. D776,991 (“the ‘991 Patent”) for “Stripping Tool for Leafy Vegetable and Herbs”. Plaintiffs are seeking permanent and preliminary injunctions, compensatory damages, treble damages, pre-judgment interest, costs, and attorney fees.

Plaintiff Chef’n owns the ‘198 Patent, which issued on August 1, 2017 from an application claiming the benefit to the provisional application that was filed on September 8, 2014. Plaintiff Taylor owns the ‘991 Patent, which issued on January 24, 2017 from an application filed on September 8, 2014. The Defendants own and operate a store, “Friendly Cooking,” which sells kitchen products through their website, www.friendlycooking.com.

Together, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants offer for sale and have sold a 3 Piece Clip on Strainer Set, which includes an infringing herb stripping tool. The herb stripping tool is alleged to include each and every limitation recited in at least independent claim 1 and dependent claims 2-5 of the ‘198 Patent. Even if the herb stripping tool does not contain each and every feature literally, the Plaintiffs claim that it is still infringing under the Doctrine of Equivalents. Further, Plaintiffs assert that the herb stripping tool is substantially the same design as the ‘991 Patent, therefore infringing the ‘991 Patent.

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Klipsch Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Shenzhen Paiaudio Electronics Co., Ltd of Guangdong, 2017-11-08-BlogPhoto-224x300China infringed on the U.S. Patent No. D603,844 (the ‘844 patent), titled “Headphone,” and violated Klipsch headphones’ trade dress. Plaintiff is seeking judgment, a permanent injunction, lost profits, damages, pre-judgement and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees, and all relief just and proper.

Plaintiff Klipsch is an Indianapolis-based audio company that produces headphones, earphones, and speakers for home and commercial use. China-based Defendant Paiaudio specializes in producing high-end earphones. The subject of this litigation is a type of small earphone patented by Klipsch, specifically their “X12i” model. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant’s “π 3.14 Audio” model is virtually identical to the X12i, infringes on the patent, and violates the Lanham Act via trade dress confusion.

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Bloomington, Indiana – In a highly publicized intellectual property case involving the design features of smartphones and tablets, the Federal Circuit will decide whether to force Samsung to pay Apple nearly $400 million – Samsung’s total profits on products that infringed Apple’s design patents. Though several high-profile academics have lined up in support of Samsung, Apple’s position on the total profits rule should prevail, according to Indiana University Maurer School of Law experts who have filed an amicus curiae brief in the case.

Apple and Samsung have been battling in dozens of complex intellectual property infringement cases in several countries. At trial in one of the U.S. cases, a jury found that several Samsung devices infringed Apple’s design patents, and awarded Apple all of Samsung’s profits on those devices. On appeal, Samsung is arguing that it should only be required to give up the portion of its profits that can be linked directly to the infringing design features of the products, a theory called “apportionment.”

“Congress debated this same question over a century ago and rejected apportionment,” said Mark D. Janis, the Robert A. Lucas Chair of Law and director of the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the IU Maurer School of Law. He explained that in the mid-1880s, the Supreme Court decided two cases involving carpet designs in which the infringers made thousands of dollars in profits, but the design patent holder was awarded only 6 cents because it failed to prove how much of the profit was attributable to the carpets’ appearance.

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