Florida Company Wins Suit Against Non-Practicing Entity

An intellectual property law firm defended supplement retailer Vistacoast.com Inc., obtaining a ruling that invalidated all asserted claims of two nutritional supplement patents by a non-practicing entity (NPE).

MIAMI—An intellectual property law firm defended supplement retailer Vistacoast.com Inc., obtaining a ruling that invalidated all asserted claims of two nutritional supplement patents by a non-practicing entity (NPE).

Vistacoast.com was defended by Florida-based patent attorney William R. Trueba, Jr.

Tawnsaura Group, a known California NPE, filled a suit in 2012 against 85 companies that sell nutritional supplements nationwide, which were consolidated to streamline the pre-trial activities. Many of the defending companies settled with Twansaura Group before the hearing, paying the NPE a licensing fee. Days before the trial, the other companies settled, leaving just Vistacoast.com.

Tawnsaura Group alleged that Vistacoast.com’s sale of a vitamin supplement called L-citrulline, which was known for health benefits before the inventor applied for his patents, infringed on Tawnsaura’s patent rights. Before the hearing, the defendant learned that the methods for administering L-citrulline claimed in the patents had been practiced and used before the patents were issued.

Additionally, the patent’s inventor, William Waugh, had attempted to publish an article on his discoveries, but it was rejected because it did not provide any new information. The defendant also said in the early 1990s, Waugh was aware that a French company sold an L-citrulline-based product, but he never informed the United States Patent & Trademark office.

During the hearing, the judge issued a positive ruling from the bench, an uncommon occurrence in a patent infringement lawsuit, ruling that the various patent claims were invalid on the basis of prior technology and prior knowledge of the claimed methods.

TAGS: Litigation
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