CINCINNATI (Legal Newsline) - Last week, a federal judge sided with consumer-products giant Procter & Gamble in a patent infringement lawsuit the company filed over its popular Crest Whitestrips.
In July 2012, P&G filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. At the time, Tennessee-based Team Technologies Inc. was the only named defendant.
Soon after, in September 2012, New Jersey-based Clio USA Inc. was added, followed by Ontario-based Brushpoint Innovations Inc. in February 2013.
P&G, headquartered in Cincinnati, argued the companies’ teeth whitening strips infringed on its patents by making and then selling them to various pharmacies and retailers, including Rite Aid, CVS and Family Dollar.
Lawyers for P&G said the companies are “willfully blind” to the fact that their infringing products are “specially made or adapted for an infringing method.”
All three defendants recently moved the Ohio federal court for summary judgment that certain claims of the patents are invalid for indefiniteness because they include the claim term “substantially/almost unnoticeable when worn.”
Judge Timothy S. Black denied the defendants’ motion in a Sept. 15 order.
P&G contends it spent a “significant” amount of money to revolutionize the process of at-home teeth whitening. Its Whitestrips were first introduced in 2001.
Because of the product’s success, P&G says many companies have tried to copy its patented technology.
“Each time, P&G has successfully enforced its patents with an out-of-court settlement,” the company said in a statement.
“Although P&G generally prefers to resolve intellectual property disputes amicably and without litigation, some infringers are unwilling to accept the strength of P&G’s patents without a court decision.”
Such as in this case, the company says.
“Consumers win when P&G and other companies introduce truly new-to-the-world innovations that deliver breakthrough benefits,” said Deborah P. Majoras, P&G’s chief legal officer.
“The U.S. patent system was put into place to drive the innovative spirit through legal protection of the inventor’s investment, including the quality assurance and safety support that consumers demand and deserve.
“Companies that want to compete legitimately with our Crest Whitestrips would not copy our patented technology. But if they do, we will exert our rights as the law allows.”
The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment on Black’s order.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.