Stant Sues Briggs & Stratton for Infringing Its Patented Fuel Cap

Indianapolis, Indiana – Stant USA Corp. of Connersville, Indiana has sued for patent infringement in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Briggs & Stratton Corp. of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin infringed its Evaporative Emissions Control Fuel Cap, Patent Number 7,261,093, which has been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

Stant designs and manufactures vapor-management systems, fuel-delivery systems and thermal-management systems. Among its products are fuel caps intended for use as original equipment by automotive manufacturers and other manufacturers, including small engine manufacturers and for use as replacement parts in the aftermarket. Stant has been in business since 1898.

Briggs & Stratton, founded in 1908, holds itself out as the world’s largest producer of air-cooled gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment and has annual revenues in excess of $2 billion. The company builds over 9,000,000 engines in the U.S. each year and employs over 3,000 employees in six states.

It is alleged that Stant employees met with Briggs & Stratton employees in 2004 and disclosed to them a fuel cap for use on a lawn mower or other small engine that incorporated carbon to filter the fuel vapor before it escaped to the atmosphere.

On July 21, 2004, Stant filed U.S. provisional patent application no. 60/589,761 directed to an evaporative emissions control fuel cap. On July 19, 2005, Stant filed U.S. utility patent application no. 11/184,474 also directed to an evaporative emissions control fuel cap. Based on these applications, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,261,093 (“the ‘093 patent”). The caps disclosed in these applications are purportedly similar to the caps disclosed to Briggs & Stratton in 2004.

Stant asserts that Briggs & Stratton has made, used, sold and/or offered for sale lawn mower engines that include a fuel cap that incorporates carbon particles to control evaporative emissions. It also contends that the fuel caps made by Briggs & Stratton embody the patented inventions of, and infringe at least claims 1 and 22 of, the ‘093 patent.

Patent attorneys for Stant ask the court for a permanent injunction; an order directing the destruction of all molds, machines, tooling or other equipment used in the manufacture of Briggs & Stratton’s fuel caps; damages, including up to treble damages; costs; fees and prejudgment interest.

Practice Tip: In the United States, an inventor has a grace period of one year from the time an invention is publicly disclosed and the time that a patent application may be filed, if patent protection for that invention is desired. However, many countries have no grace period. It is therefore wise to file a patent application before disclosing an invention publically. If that is not practicable, executing a written non-disclosure agreement prior to disclosure is advisable.

This complaint was filed by Lynn C. Tyler, Aaron M. Staser, and Michael R. Brunelle of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. The case was assigned to District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt and Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker in the Southern District of Indiana and assigned Case No. 1:13-cv-01908-TWP-TAB.


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