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US court upholds Kennedy Group patents

February 27, 2007

US Federal District Judge Patricia Gaughan has upheld a jury verdict in favor of MPT Inc., the owner of two patents licensed to The Kennedy Group, Willoughby, OH, USA, covering the use of The Kennedy Group’s Container Placards. In doing so, Gaughan granted a permanent injunction against Marathon Labels Inc. of Fort Wayne, IN, USA and Polymeric Consulting LLC of Enfield, CT, USA, and anyone acting in concert with them, from using or selling the Smart Surface Placard within the United States.
“We’re extremely pleased with the positive outcome of this case and the judge’s injunction barring the sales and use of our Smart Surface Placard,” says The Kennedy Group’s President, Mike Kennedy. “We believe it sends a strong, clear message that we’re serious about supporting our patents and our company’s intellectual property. Additionally, we hope it will deter further patent infringements and help to preserve the integrity of our industry as a whole.”
MPT filed suit against Marathon and Polymeric for infringements of patents that cover the method of labeling and re-labeling reusable containers popularized by The Kennedy Group’s container placard products. In a court case that lasted two years, the jury and Judge Gaughan found that the patents are valid and enforceable, and that Marathon and Polymeric infringed the patents. It was also ruled that MPT was entitled to money damages for the infringement.

According to Peter Dronzek, a principal of Polymeric Converting, MPT was awarded $3,561.64 in damages for patent infringement. "We were disappointed by the court's ruling, which was based in part on a finding that the term 'release coating' as used in the MPT patents was to be construed as meaning  'a covering that permits the easy and complete removal of pressure sensitive labels'," says Dronzek. "Based on this interpretation, the court determined that a solid piece of Teflon film was a release coating. This finding is contrary to the meaning of release coating as used in the industry and we intend to appeal the court's decision. Nevertheless, this decision will not prevent us from participating in the placard business segment because we have developed a new product, the INTELLI-PLAC, which utilizes new and different technology."
The container placard is a label holding system. It contains a release surface on one side and an adhesive on the other side. The adhesive sticks to the container, and the release surface faces outward. Pat Kennedy, vice president of The Kennedy Group, says the container placard is a very simple product, like a Post-It note, that the company has sold for 10 years. He explains that with the product, companies can reuse containers without having to scrape off old labels, which leaves room for error in product and location identification.
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