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

Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 10, 2008, 2:56pm

Marshall Division, Eastern District of Texas

Sept. 2

  • Vivatone Hearing Systems LLC vs. GN Resound et al

    Plaintiff Vivatone claims to be the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent No. 7,421,086 issued Sept. 2, 2008, for a Hearing Aid System.

    The suit alleges that at least two dozen defendants have infringed the '086 Patent. Among the defendants are GN ReSound, Beltone, American Hearing Systems, Oticon, Phonak, Unitron Hearing, Siemens Hearing Instruments, Widex Hearing Aid Co., America Hears, Sonus and Amplifon.

    The suit gives no details as to the specific products or services by defendants that are alleged to have infringed the '086 Patent.

    "Plaintiff has been damaged by defendants' infringement of the '086 Patent through lost sales, lost profits and/or lost royalties," the complaint states.

    Vivatone is seeking a permanent injunction against defendants, compensatory damages no less than reasonable royalty, treble damages, interest, attorneys' fees and other relief.

    Elizabeth DeRieux of Capshaw DeRieux LLP in Longview is representing the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.

    Case No. 2:08-cv-334-TJW

    Sept. 8

  • Furminator Inc. vs. PetVac LLC

    Furminator is a St. Louis-based company started by Angela and David Porter in 2002 to market and sell pet grooming tools and other pet products.

    According to the original complaint, Angela Porter learned a pet grooming technique known as "carding," which removes the pet's shed hair without damaging the top coat. She was taught to card dogs by using the blade from a set of electric clippers, which required the groomer to hold the blade and move it repeatedly through the pet's fur.

    "This method was difficult and tiring as the blades were not designed to be held or used in this fashion," the complaint states.

    Angela Porter then sought to develop an easy-to-use tool that could remove shedding hair but did not pull or cut non-loose hair.

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

    The suit says that Angela owned a grooming salon and that David was a graphic designer and the couple worked for several years to develop the concept, build prototypes and find others that would help them manufacture their products.

    On Aug. 31, 2004, the Porters were issued U.S. Patent No. 6,782,846 and several continuation applications including U.S. Patent No. 7,334,540. The suit states that Furminator produces several products that are covered by the '540 Patet.

    Furminator markets its grooming tools to groomers, veterinarians and animal rescue centers and to the public on QVC, through catalogs, on the Internet, retail outlets such as PetSmart and Petco, groomers who sell the line and other advertisements and trade shows.

    The plaintiffs claim they have enjoyed significant commercial success, accolades and brisk sales for their de-shedding tools.

    "On information and believe, Furminator's success has caused Furminator's competitor PetVac to imitate Furminator's products," the complaint states.

    The suit claims that PetVac's ShedEliminator infringes that '540 Patent and that the infringement has been willful.

    Plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, compensatory damages, treble damages, attorneys' fees, interest and costs as well as an accounting of all profits.

    Nicholas Patton of Patton, Tidwell & Schroeder LLP in Texarkana is representing the plaintiffs.

    Court assignment is pending.

    Furminator has filed two other suits in the past year on allegations of patent infringement. One was filed in February against Munchkin Inc. and others (2:08-cv-085-TJW-CE). It is still pending in Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham's court in Marshall. A suit against PetEdge was settled about six weeks after its March 3 filing date (2:08-cv-092-DF) .

    Case No. 2:08-cv-338

    Sept. 9

  • Stragent LLC vs. Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co.

    Plaintiff Stragent is a Texas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Longview. It claims to own the rights to U.S. Patent No. 7,424,431 issued Sept. 9, 2008, for a System, Method and Computer Program Product for Adding Voice Activation and Voice Control to a Media Player.

    The plaintiff alleges that defendants Microsoft and Ford Motor Co. infringe the '431 Patent through the Microsoft Sync software used in Ford vehicles.

    Stragent is seeking injunctive relief, damages, costs, interest, reasonable royalty and other relief.

    Eric Albritton and T. John Ward Jr. of Longview and Danny Williams of Houston are representing the plaintiff.

    Court assignment is pending.

    Case No. 2:08-cv-341

    Texarkana Division, Eastern District of Texas

    Sept. 8

  • MKS Instruments Inc. vs Celerity Inc.

    According to the complaint, MKS manufactures and sells processing control instruments, including mass flow controllers for the semiconductor industry. MKS claims it is the owner of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,712,084 and 6,932,098. It is also owner of the an application "which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has indicated will issue as U.S. Patent No. 7,424,346 on Sept. 9, 2008," the suit states.

    The plaintiff claims Celerity, an Allen, Texas-based company, has directly or indirectly used the invention of one or more claims of the '084 and '098 Patents. Products that allegedly infringe the patents-in-suit include the Unit 125 Series Performance Gas Flow Controllers, Unit 125 Series Integrated Flow Controllers, RFC 100 Ratio Flow Controllers, IN3XP Series Performance mass flow controllers and meters and custom Gas Delivery Modules using PTI Technology. These activities will also allegedly infringe the '346 Patent.

    MKS will amend the complaint to include all allegations of infringement of the '346 Patent upon its issuance, the suit states.

    According to the suit, MKS entered into an agreement with Applied Materials Inc. in April 2006 in which it granted Celerity a license to the '084 and '098 Patents, which was terminated in July 2007.

    MKS states that it does not allege any infringement by Celerity during the license period.

    MKS is seeking injunctive relief, an accounting of all damages, treble damages for willful and deliberate infringement, costs, attorneys' fees, interest and other just and proper relief.

    J. Thad Heartfield of Beaumont is attorney in charge for the plaintiff.

    The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.

    Case No. 5:08-cv-157-TJW

    Tyler Division, Eastern District of Texas

    Sept. 8

  • Retractable Technologies Inc. et al vs. Safety Medical International Inc.

    Plaintiff Retractable Technologies is Texas corporation founded in 1994 and based in Little Elm. Retractable manufactures and sells safety needle devices that incorporate patented designs retracting the needle into the device so that it cannot accidentally stick anyone after use, the complaint states.

    The other plaintiff, Thomas Shaw is an individual residing in Frisco, Denton County.

    According to the complaint, Shaw developed and patented a new safety syringe in 1995. He then formed a company to manufacture the retractable syringe under the name "VanishPoint."

    The suit claims that VanishPoint is covered by a number of patents, including U.S. Patent Nos. 5,578,011; 5,632,733; 6,090,077 and 6,572,584.

    "The VanishPoint syringes have helped thousands, if not millions, of health care workers avoid contracting HIV/AIDS and other life threatening blood diseases through needle stick accidents," the suit claims. "The new safety syringe and Retractable have been featured in major news publications and on CBS 60 Minutes."

    The suit goes on to say that in 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a federal law requiring hospitals to keep track of needle stick injuries and to consider various safety syringes.

    "Shaw was present at the signing of the legislation, as he was instrumental in getting the legislation passed," the suit states.

    The plaintiff alleges defendant Safety Medical International manufactures the Saf-T-Syringe in China with the intent of importing it into the United States, and has sold it in the United States.

    "Representatives of Retractable have purchased in this court's jurisdiction, in Allen, Texas, Collin County, retractable syringe products in packages labeled in part 'Retractable Needle Syringe … Saf-T-Syringe … Safety Medical International Inc., Apopka, Fla.," the suit states.

    The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief, actual damages not less than a reasonably royalty, interest, costs, attorneys' fees, treble damages and other relief to which Shaw and Retractable may be entitled.

    Roy W. Hardin of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP in Dallas is representing the plaintiffs.

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

    Retractable has three other patent infringement cases pending in the Eastern District of Texas, and is being sued by Becton Dickinson & Co.

    Case No. 6:08-cv-353-LED

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