April 2013

April 22, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Elizabeth LaPorte recently ruled that Avocet Sports Technology Inc. waited an unreasonable amount of time, 6 years, to initiate a patent infringement case against Polar Electro, Inc.  Thus, she dismissed the case due to the doctrine of laches.

Avocet Sports Technology Inc., a Palo Alto, California company, tried to convince the Judge that the 6-year delay was due to a lack of funds needed to pursue litigation, but the Judge dismissed the excuse as having “no authority” to uphold it.  She further stated that Avocet’s claim of lack of knowledge was unjustified because Avocet Sports should have taken action sooner if it knew of possible infringing activity by Polar Electro.

Avocet Sports filed the complaint a year ago against Polar Electro in a California federal courtroom alleging that Polar infringed on one of its patents.  The patent at issue, U.S. Patent Number 5,058,427, issued in 1991 for “Methods for selectively accumulating altitude changes”.  The patent involves a strap-on device which Avocet Sports developed as a GPS-type of monitor which tracks a hiker, cyclist, or runner’s variations in altitude while on a trek.

Avocet Sports has been an innovator of outdoor sports products including compact cycling computers, altimeters, heart rate monitors and other related equipment since 1977.  Avocet Sport’s complaint against Polar Electro claimed the two companies had discussed the possibility of a partnership or license to the technology, but that Polar Electro had branched out on its own, copied the design, and then sold its own similar device.

Polar Electro, which focuses on sports, physiology and electronics has been developing heart rate monitors since 1977.  It now sells its products in over 80 different countries, employing 1200 people.  Polar Electro has been aggressively marketing and selling the elevation-tracking device since 2004, spending significant sums of money, unaware they may have been infringing on Avocet Sport’s patent.  Because of this, the Judge felt Polar Electro would be unduly prejudiced by Avocet’s long delay in filing an action against it.

Now that the case has been dismissed, it may never be determined if Polar Electro had in fact infringed the patent.

April 4, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Last Thursday, ResMed Inc. filed lawsuits against two companies alleging patent infringement related to devices that help prevent sleep breathing disorders.  Taiwan based Apex Medical Corp., the alleged manufacturer, and Medical Depot Inc., the alleged distributor, who are doing business together as “Drive Medical Design and Manufacturing”, are the target of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court and a complaint filed with the International Trade Commission.

ResMed Inc., which is headquartered in San Diego, California, alleges that the companies are selling or importing sleep disorder breathing treatment systems that infringe seven patents covering products such as humidifiers, flow generators, and respiratory masks.  ResMed has developed many devices and methods for treatment for sleep apnea and other related sleep breathing disorders.  One ResMed product at the center of the dispute is a special mask designed to promote air flow.

ResMed currently has a portfolio of 95 trademarks and 54 registered patents and has been active in protecting its intellectual property, though this is the first time that ResMed has been forced to file a lawsuit related to the patents named in the lawsuit.  Sleep apnea can cause serious health problems if left untreated including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart problems, trouble concentrating, and stroke.  Roughly 20% of all adults have sleep apnea.

The ITC Complaint states that the defendants manufacture the allegedly infringing products in Taiwan and then arrange for their importation into the U.S.  ResMed is requesting that the ITC permanently bar Apex and Medical Depot from importing the alleged infringing breathing treatment apparatuses into the U.S.

In the District Court case, ResMed is seeking damages in addition to an injunction.  The complaint states that Apex’s XT Fit, iCH Auto, and its Wizard 210 and Wizard 220 masks all infringe its patents. The complaint contains four claims of infringement each against Apex and Drive Medical related to masks, and three more claims against Apex over other devices.  The complaint also seeks damages based on allegations that Apex and Medical Depot’s face-mask type of breathing inventions infringe Resmed’s patents.  The “acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to ResMed unless and until enjoined by this court,” the complaint said.