* Bow tie patent suit to go forward
* False marking lawsuits against big companies affected
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Aug 31 A patent lawyer with a
penchant for bow ties has won a round in a fight with Brooks
Brothers over expired patent markings that has implications for
dozens of similar suits across the country.
Patent lawyer Raymond Stauffer, who says he wears a bow tie
almost every day, had accused Brooks Brothers of selling
"Adjustolox" bow ties marked as patented when, in fact, the
patents expired in the 1950s.
Brooks Brothers responded that Stauffer had no right to
file the suit since he was not harmed by the erroneous
information and a New York district court agreed.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
reversed that ruling on Tuesday and sent the case back to the
lower court for further consideration.
"False marking" lawsuits, as these legal fights are called,
have become something of a cottage industry in the patent world
since the same appeals court ruled in December the fine for
claiming a nonexistent or expired patent was $500 per device
Half the money goes to the person who files the lawsuit and
half to the U.S. government.
The lower court had said Stauffer failed to show standing
and the appeals court ruled the law did not require Stauffer to
be injured by the false marking, but quoted the law as saying
that "any person may sue for the penalty."
"I'm delighted with the decision. The language of the
statute made it clear: I am 'any person,'" said Stauffer, who
said he did not know how many ties Brooks Brothers sold with
the markings and so could not estimate how much they might end
up being required to pay.
Brooks Brothers did not respond to a telephone call seeking
But the implications of the decision go beyond Brooks
Brothers, since false marking lawsuits across the country had
been stayed pending the ruling on standing, said Dan Ravicher,
head of the Public Patent Foundation, which has cases pending
against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc,
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare LP, Adobe Systems Inc
(ADBE.O) and others.
Ravicher said those cases would now go forward. About a
dozen others had also been stayed pending a decision on
Stauffer, according to a patent law blog called Gray on
"You can't blame the corporations for trying the Hail Mary
pass," added Ravicher.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Andre Grenon)