After being sued for patent infringement by Maquet, Abiomed filed non-infringement counterclaims against Maquet its corporate parent, Swedish company Getinge AB. Judge Saylor granted Getinge’s motion to dismiss, agreeing that Getinge lacks standing to sue Abiomed and determining that this insulates Getinge from the declaratory judgment counterclaim. Judge Saylor noted that the counterclaim does not allege that a written agreement exists by which Getinge was given any rights in the subject patent, and absent a written transfer of rights, Getinge can have no rights in the patent. He refused to extend the doctrine of equitable title, stating that there is nothing inherently unfair or inequitable in a corporate subsidiary owning all rights in a patent or in the parent then exercising substantial control over the subsidiary that would require bringing the parent into the controversy. Accordingly, the counterclaim was dismissed as applied to Getinge (although it remains in place against Maquet).
Butler filed a complaint against Avent and O&M Halyard, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and cancellation of two trademark registrations claiming rights in the color purple for latex gloves. Butler, a manufacturer of home cleaning products, sells reusable purple latex gloves to Wegmans Food Markets, who then sells the gloves under the WEGMANS® brand. The registrations cover the color purple for “protective gloves for industrial use, and disposable nitrile gloves for use in laboratories and clean room environments,” “gloves for medical and surgical uses,” and “disposable nitrile gloves for general uses.” In April, Avent and O&M Halyard sent Wegmans a cease and desist letter, which was forwarded to Butler. After a response challenging the protectability of the color purple, Butler received a second cease and desist letter, setting up the DJ action. Butler asserts that the color purple is functional, in that laboratories use different color gloves for different areas to prevent cross-contamination or to signify the material the gloves are made of, as well as the existence of other purple gloves, asserted to preclude the color from serving as an identifier of source.
Alnylam filed suit against Silence Therapeutics, seeking a declaration that its Patisiran RNA interference product does not infringe five Silence patents. Patisiran is awaiting approval from the FDA for treatment of hereditary transthyretin-mediated ATTR amyloidosis, a genetic disease in which misformed proteins accumulate as deposits in the heart, erves, GI tract, and other organs, bringing forth a number of different symptoms. Currently, other than liver transplants for early-stage sufferers, there are no FDA-approved treatments for the disease. Alnylam asserts that it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in developing Patisiran. Alnylam alleges that Silence, which has no products on the market or in advanced clinical trials, has claimed that Alnylam infringes the patents by correspondence in the United States as well as by filing infringement suits in Europe and challenging Alnylam patents on the technology in Europe. These disputes are on-going. Alnylam seeks declarations of non-infringment and injunctions prohibiting Silence from asserting infringement of the patents.
Oomph Hair filed suit against Hair Illusions and its founder, Salvatore Passariello, accusing them of infringing Oomph’s trademark, cybersquatting, falsely disparaging Oomph products, and other forms of unfair competition, as well as seeking declaratory judgment that Hair Illusion’s “hairline enhancement” trademark application is invalid as merely descriptive. Hair Illusions is purported to control 90% of the real hair fiber market (real hair fiber is, as near as I can tell, small hair fibers, that are temporarily adhered to natural hair, making thinning hair look fuller). Oomph claims that Hair Illusions uses unfair and tortious means to maintain this market share, such as threatening Oomph and Oomph customers with patent lawsuits, despite having no patent to assert (Passariello had a pair of application undergoing prosecution at the time; they have since gone abandoned). Oomph also asserts that Hair Illusion registered domain names confusingly similar to Oomph’s registered HAIR FUSION trademark, which disparage Oomph’s product (e.g., alleging that the product contains parasites) and redirect customers to Hair Illusion’s on-line store. Oomph seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, transferal of the offending domain names, and monetary damages. Oomph filed a motion for a preliminary injunction concurrently with the filing of the complaint. Judge Zobel scheduled a hearing on the motion for March 28.
Office supply company W. B. Mason filed a declaratory judgment action against Dairy Queen, seeking the right to continue use of the mark BLIZZARD for paper products and spring water. W. B. Mason registered the marks BLINDING WHITE BLIZZARD 78 COPY PAPER and BLIZZARD BLINDING WHITE COPY PAPER, and sought to register the marks BLIZZARD SPRING WATER and WHO BUT W.B. MASON’S BLIZZARD SPRING WATER; the latter two applications were opposed by Dairy Queen. Settlement negotiations ensued. W. B. Mason asserts that recently, after lulling W. B. Mason to hold off on further action while his client was out of town, Dairy Queen’s attorneys filed suit in Minnesota (18-cv-00693) claiming trademark infringement and dilution. In light of this, W. B. Mason asserts that the “first-to-file” rule should not apply or, alternatively, an exception to the rule should control, and the case should proceed in Massachusetts rather than Minnesota. The case has been assigned to Judge Gorton.