Supreme Court case about adult diapers

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Llayden

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A fight between Prevail and Tena. I wonder what the "646" patent was that they assert was infringed?
 

nobodyknows

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It's a patent infringement case? Darn. Looking at the thread title I was expecting a more interesting case.
 

willnotwill

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Here's the court documents: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/sca_v_first_quality_-_en_banc_opinion.pdf

Here's the patent https://www.google.com/patents/US6375646

The "laches" defense is sort of a legal principal of "you snooze, you lose." If you don't timely press your rights, you lose the rights to do so in the future. It's primarily to avoid people using the time delay to game the system to their advantage. Whether laches applies is in question becuase its basis is a mixture of previous common law (legal decisions) and certain expressly enacted laws by congress.

So anyhow, this is less about whether the patent is infringed, but whether SCA waited too long to bring the lawsuit. The original trial court said they did for two reasons: one is laches and the other is that SCA had apparenlty acquiesced to FQ while the patent was reexamined allowing FQ to rely on the fact that they were OK to invest heavily in production.

The case went to a panel of the appellate court for a decision which agreed on Laches and disagreed on the second principal. The full appellate court then heard it and disagreed that laches absolutely barred the case and that it needs to be heard.

Of course, not decided yet is whether the patent was valid and whether FQ actually infrigned on it.
 
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Traemo

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And here's the patent for the Prior Art/Invalidity claim
 

INTrePid

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The patent itself dates back to 1992 looks like it just describes a pretty generic pull-on diaper. I'm not sure how other companies aren't violating this too, maybe it's only because they've added additional features whereas Prevail's product tend to be quite basic and generic in design.
 

AnalogRTO

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Patents are notoriously full of legalese. Just fully understanding what each claim covers (and the sub-claims under each one), it helps to be an expert in the field that the patent is in. I can do a decent job decoding patents on a lot of circuits, but diaper construction is out of my scope. I can't argue the points of which patent covers what in this instance with any confidence.

What I find interesting is that (from the court documents) SCA first sent the cease-and-desist letter regarding what they saw as the '646 patent infringement On October 31, 2003 and FQ responded on November 21, 2003, after which communication ceased. It wasn't until July of 2004 that SCA asked for the review of the '646 patent, and I find their view that the PTO reexamination being public as reason to not communicate the matter to FQ as ridiculous, though it will be up to the courts to truly decide. I can accept FQ's attitude that the matter with SCA was settled--as someone who works in an industry where patents (and protecting them) are important, we are instructed to NOT do patent searches when creating a new product. If we were to see a patent on something and then use that in our design, we are willfully violating that patent. However, if we create the same thing that is already covered by a patent (and can prove we created it without knowledge of the patent), things are much easier. I see no reason why FQ would actively watch to see if a patent they consider invalid (and the patent holder dropped the communication regarding) is being re-examined and the end results of said re-examination.

Given these facts together with the three year delay in filing the complaint, I can see the argument FQ makes regarding laches. The argument I see against laches reflects judgments made on copyrighted material. Considering the complaint is regarding patent infringement, I consider the argument weak.

Of course, I could be completely wrong in the way I think, considering I am not a patent attorney nor a specialist in patent law in any fashion.
 
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