MARSHALL – A case involving the patented designs of football helmets has been moved from Texas to an Illinois federal court.
The Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas said in its Aug. 28 opinion that “a recognized passion for football in Texas does not alter the proper analysis which fidelity to the law requires. This factor favors transfer.”
Judge Rodney Gilstrap ruled in the case of Kranos IP Corp., Kranos IP II Corp. and Kranos Corp., doing business as Schutt Sports v. Riddell Inc. that although Texas was the correct venue, Illinois was “clearly a more convenient forum” for the case.
In May 2017, Schutt Sports filed suit against Riddell Inc. in the Marshall court, alleging that Riddell had infringed on three patents for helmet designs.
“The products accused of infringement in this case are various football helmets made by Riddell. Specifically, the accused products include: SpeedFlex, Revolution Speed, Revolution Speed Classic, 360, Revolution IQ, Foundation, Revolution Edge, Revolution Attack, Revolution Attack-I, Attack, Victor-I and Victor,” according to the opinion.
Both companies specialize in designing and manufacturing football helmets. Riddell is an Illinois corporation. Schutt's principal place of business is in Litchfield, Illinois.
Riddell filed a motion to dismiss the case based on improper venue. Patent infringement suits are typically filed where the defendant resides or has a place of business, the opinion stated. According to 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), “Even if a domestic corporation does not reside in the district in which the case is filed, venue remains proper if that defendant has committed acts of infringement in the district and has a regular and established place of business within the district,” the opinion stated.
Schutt argued that Texas was the more proper venue for the case, noting the popularity of high school football in the state. The court disagreed, noting, “It may be true that, in Texas, football is king. According to plaintiffs’ amended complaint, more high school students play football in Texas than in any other state. (Am. Compl. ¶17.) The court knows no Texans that would dispute this point. However, ultimately, the court is persuaded that the residents of northern Illinois have a stronger interest in this particular patent dispute than do the residents of this district,” the opinion stated.