Recent patent/copyright infringement cases filed in U.S. District Courts

Marilyn Tennissen Feb. 27, 2008, 7:40am

Marshall Division, Eastern District of Texas

Feb. 26

  • Furminator Inc. vs. Munchkin Inc et al

    Furminator is a St. Louis-based company formed by Angela and David Porter in 2002. Its primary business is the promotion and sales of pet grooming tool and other pet products.

    After starting in the pet grooming business, Angela Porter learned a grooming technique known as "carding" which removes the pet's shed hair without damaging the top coat. Her experience with the process demonstrated to her a need for an easy-to-use tool that did not tire the groomer's hand or pull non-loose hair on the animal.

    According the original complaint, the Porters invented the Furminator DeShedding Tools, "and taking great personal financial risk, pursued a dream to start a business and sell those products."

    U.S. Patent No. 6,782,846 was issued to the Porters on Aug. 31, 2004, and Patent No. 7,334,540 was issued as a continuation.

    Furminator markets its tools to pet grooming professionals, veterinarians, animal rescue centers and to the general public through QVC, the Internet, mass retail outlets including PetSmart and Petco and other means.

    The plaintiff claims the company has enjoyed commercial success, brisk sales, awards and rapid growth.

    "Furminator's success has causd Furminator's competitors Bamboo and Laube to imitate Furminator's products," the complaint states. "Despite knowledge of Furminator's intellectual property rights to the design embodied by its DeShedding Tools, these imitators have knocked off Furminator's products by copying aspects of Furminator's design."

    As examples of infringing products, the complaint includes the Bamboo FurBuster tool and the Laube Quick Change Tool. Furminator alleges that defendants Munchkin Inc. doing business as Bamboo and Kim Laube & Co. had knowledge of the Furminator patents, which makes the infringement willful and deliberate.

    Furminator is seeking a permanent injunction, destruction of the defendants' infringing products, reasonable royalty, treble damages, attorney fees, costs and other relief.

    Nicholas Patton and Kurt Truelove of Texarkana are representing the plaintiff. Attorneys from Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis are of counsel.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward and referred to Magistrate Charles Everingham.

    Case No. 2:08-cv-085-TJW-CE

    Texarkana Division, Eastern District of Texas

    Feb. 22

  • Disc Link Corp. vs. Mindjet Corp. et al

    On Nov. 6, 2001, U.S. Patent No. 6,314,574 was issued for an Information Distribution System, which relates to products distributed on portable, read-only storage devices such as CD ROMS that include a link to retrieve additional data via the Internet.

    The '574 Patent was re-examined in 2004 and the patentability of all claims of the patent was confirmed. Disk Link claims it is the owner of the '574 Patent.

    Disk Link alleges that defendants Mindjet, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Website Pros, Raxco Software, Serif Inc. and Smith Micro Software Inc. make, use, supply and distribute products or systems that infringe the '574 Patent.

    "Disk Link has been damaged as a result of defendants' infringing conduct," the original complaint states. "Defendants are thus liable to Disk Link in an amount that adequately compensates it for their infringements, which by law cannot be less than a reasonable royalty together with interest and costs."

    In addition, Disk Link claims it notified Raxco and Smith Micro in writing on Aug. 25, 2006, of their infringing conduct.

    "Those defendants have knowingly and willfully infringed the '574 Patent since at least the time of their notices," the complaint states.

    The plaintiff is seeking treble damages and other relief that the court may deem just and proper.

    Eric Albritton and the T. John Ward Jr. of Longview and attorneys from Friedman, Suder and Cooke are representing the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Folsom.

    Case No. 5:08-cv-032-DF

    Tyler Division, Eastern District of Texas

    Feb. 22

  • Aloft Media LLC vs. Microsoft Corp.

    Plaintiff Aloft Media is a Texas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Longview. Aloft claims it is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7,305,625 for a Data Networking System and Method for Interfacing a User issued Dec. 4, 2007.

    Aloft alleges that Microsoft infringes the '625 Patent through its computer software products including MSN Explorer and Microsoft Windows Live services and associated software.

    In a second suit filed against Microsoft on Feb. 22, Aloft claims it is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 6,901,393 for a System, Method and Computer Program Product for a Customer-Centric Collaborative Protocol issued May 31, 2005.

    Microsoft's alleged infringement of the '393 Patent includes the Microsoft Dynamics software products.

    Aloft claims it has suffered monetary damages as a result of the defendant's infringement and is seeking compensation no less than a reasonable royalty. Aloft is also seeking a permanent injunction against Microsoft, costs, interest, attorneys' fees and other relief.

    Eric Albritton and T. John Ward Jr. of Longview and Williams, Morgan & Amerson PC of Houston are representing the plaintiff.

    The cases have been assigned to U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis.

    Case Nos. 6:08-cv-050-LED and 6:08-cv-051-LED

    Feb. 26

  • Shurflo LLC vs. ITT Corp. et al

    Plaintiff Shurflo LLC is a California-based company formerly known as Shurflo Pump Manufacturing Co.

    There are six patents-in-suit, including U.S. Patent No. 5,791,882 for a High Efficiency Diaphragm Pump.

    Shurflo alleges that defendants ITT Corp., ITT Industries, Flojet Corp., ITT Jabsco Inc and Rule Industries Inc. have infringed the Shurflo patents. Infringing products include the Flojet Automatic Water Systems Pump, Jabsco High Capacity Variable Speed Drive Pump and Flojet Universal Bracket.

    Shurflo is seeking a permanent injunction, treble damages, interest, costs, attorneys' fees and other just and proper relief.

    Eric W. Buether of Dallas is attorney in charge for the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis.

    Case No. 6:08-CV-059-LED

  • Fenner Investments Ltd. vs. 3Com Corp. et al

    Fenner is a limited liability partnership based in Richardson.

    On Dec. 5, 2006, U.S. Patent No. 7,145,906 was issued for a Packet Switching Node. According the original complaint, Peter R. Fenner is the sole inventor of the '906 Patent. The patent relates to Mr. Fenner's work in satisfying the 1989 SBIR Program Topic Number N89-037 for the U.S. Navy disclosed in a submission called "An addressing technique for U.S. Navy traffic in a multimedia environment."

    Fenner alleges that defendants 3Com Corp., Foundry Networks Inc., Extreme Networks Inc., Netgear Inc., Zyxel Communications Inc., D-Link Systems Inc. and SMC Networks Inc. have in the past and are currently engaging in unauthorized conduct and activities that constitute infringement of the '906 Patent.

    Fenner is seeking an accounting of all damages sustained as a result of the infringement, injunctive relief, actual damages, enhanced damages, interest, attorneys' fees, costs and other just and proper relief.

    Robert M Chiavello Jr. of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP in Dallas is lead attorney for the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Leonard E. Davis.

    Case No. 6:08-cv-061-LED

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