Over the past 6 months the Gillette Company (Gillette) has filed two different complaints asserting infringement of numerous design patents to protect several of its razor blade related products. In the first case, Gillette recently obtained a consent judgment, illustrating the value of design patents in its patent portfolio. The second case is ongoing.
First, on October 10, 2013, Gillette filed a complaint against BK Gifts, BK Razors, Brian Patrick, Kim Murry, and Zilo Store, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”), in the Southern District of Ohio (Gillette Company v. BK Gifts, transferred to the Northern District of Ohio, Docket No. 3-13-cv-02241-1).
The suit related to the following six design patents, which Gillette asserted covered the “valuable, unique and distinctive ornamental distinctive and non-functional design” of their razors:
- D415,315 (’315 patent), issued on October 12, 1999, claiming “the ornamental design for a razor cartridge,”
- D422,751 (’751 patent), issued on April 11, 2000, claiming “the ornamental design for a razor blade cartridge,”
- D430,023 (’023 patent), issued August 29, 2000, claiming “the ornamental design for a container,”
- D440,874 (‘874 patent), issued April 24, 2001, claiming “the ornamental design for a container,”
- D531,518 (’518 patent), issued on November 7, 2006, claiming “the ornamental design for a dispenser for razor cartridges,” and
- D575,454 (’454 patent), issued on August 19, 2008, claiming “the ornamental design for a shaving blade unit.”
The ’315 patent is set to expire on October 12, 2013 and the ’751 and ’023 patent will expire in 2014.
Figure 1 of the ’751 patent, Figure 1 of the ’518 patent, and Figure 1 of the ’454 patent are shown below, respectively.
The Defendants allegedly copied these designs corresponding to Gillette’s Mach®, Fusion®, and/or Venus® razor blade cartridges, shaving blade units, dispensers, and shaving blade containers products.
Gillette stated that on August 12, 2013, it sent an e –mail to various e-mail addresses associated with BK Gifts, notifying BK entities of the infringement of Gillette’s’ intellectual property and design patent rights. An alleged August 15, 2013, letter by Gillette further requested resolution of BK Gifts’ and BK Razors’ infringement of Gillette’s design patent and intellectual property rights, with copies of the ‘751 and ‘454 patents. Gillette allegedly received no response to this letter.
Gillette stated that on July 21, 2013, it sent a letter to Zilo demanding that Zilo cease and desist from further infringement, including attachment of the ‘751 patent, ‘454 and 315 patents. On August 7, 2013, Gillette allegedly received a response offering full cooperation, but the infringing products remained available for sale online.
In the complaint, Gillette claimed that an ordinary observer would be deceived by the substantial similarity between its patented designs and the products sold and/or offered for sale. Accordingly, Gillette claimed that Defendants’ deliberate and willful actions in infringing the above-noted design patents caused and would continue to cause irreparable harm unless preliminarily and permanently enjoined.
A consent judgment dated January 22, 2014, noted that Gillette and the Defendants entered into Confidential Settlement Agreements, dated and effective as of January 15, 2014, resolving all disputes and claims between the parties, including past damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.
The ’751, ’454 and ’518 patents, referred to as “the Fusion and Mach Patents” were determined to be infringed, not invalid, and not unenforceable. Injunctions were granted against the Defendants.
In the consent judgment, the Defendants admitted that “the Fusion and Mach Patents are valid and enforceable in all respects, and that the razor cartridges and cartridge containers sold by the BK Defendants as ‘comparable to’ Fusion or Mach razor cartridges, or otherwise advertised or sold by the BK Defendants as substitutes, alternatives, or replacements for Fusion of Mach razor cartridges and cartridge containers violated the applicable Fusion and Mach patents.”
The judgment further noted that the Defendants would “terminate all manufacture, offers for sale, sale, and use of its current razor cartridges and cartridge containers incorporating the designs protected by any and all of the Fusion and Mach patents, and are hereby permanently enjoined, in the absence of a license, from making, offering for sale, selling and using such products, and variations thereof, during the enforceable life of the Fusion and Mach Patents.”
Second, Gillette also filed a complaint on January 29, 2014, in the Southern District of Ohio (Docket No. 1:14-cv-89), against the Javitch Canfield Group (JCG) and PNL Ventures (PNL). Gillette alleged infringement of Gillette’s design patent rights, as protected by the D422,751 patent, seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against continued infringement. In the complaint, Gillette claimed that both JCG and PNL offered for sale on Amazon.com, and based a substantial component of their business on direct copies and near exact imitations of Gillette’s product as embodied in the design of the ’751 patent.
Gillette filed for injunctive relief and damages, individually and collectively for joint and several liability, and for willful infringement from both JCG and PNL. Gillette further requested an assessment of Gillette’s damages and/or Defendant’s profits, an award of attorneys’ fees to Gillette. A trial by jury was demanded. This case is ongoing.