BLOGS: Furniture Law Blog

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 1:52 PM

Unique Event! Join NC Attorney General Roy Cooper & Womble Carlyle for the CLE Symposium for Top NC Legal Counsel on May 5

Womble Carlyle CLE Symposium for Top NC Legal Counsel
A full-day CLE event for in-house counsel
May 5, 2011 -- 8:30-4:30 p.m.
10 CLE Sessions, Lunch and Keynote Address by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper

On May 5, Womble Carlyle will offer CLE sessions on such topics as:

  • political contributions/lobbying

  • data management

  • economic development

  • crisis/catastrophic event planning

  • employee defection/personnel departures

  • outsourcing agreements

  • intellectual property minefields

  • legal project management

  • the China market

  • ‘green’ strategies

Event information

Location: Proximity Hotel
704 Green Valley Road
Greensboro, NC 27408
(800) 379-8200
Reference this event when booking overnight stay to receive special rate.

RSVP: There is no fee to attend but seating is limited.
Please RSVP by Friday, April 22nd, using one of the following methods:
phone: (336) 433-5699

Click here for information on the ten panels that are being offered to top legal counsel in North Carolina.

Register today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 10:01 AM

Simmons Strikes First Against L&G Patent

On March 30, 2011, Simmons Bedding Co. and The Simmons Manufacturing Co., LLC (collectively "Simmons") brought a declaratory judgment action against Leggett & Platt, Inc. and L&P Property Management Co. (collectively "L&G") seeking a declaration that Simmons does not infringe L&G's patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,868,383 ("the '383 patent") titled "Multiple Rate Coil Spring Assembly."

In its complaint, Simmons alleges that L&G has threatened suit over the '383 for Simmons' sale of products incorporating a spring marketed as the SMART RESPONSE coil.  Claim 1 of the '383 patent states:

1. An automated method for the manufacture of a coil spring assembly comprising inserting coil springs into respective individual pockets of a continuous pocket strip in a predetermined order wherein at least one of said coil springs has predetermined multiple spring rates.

Simmons is seeking a declaration for noninfringement and invalidity of the '383 patent.  The case is Civil Action No. 11-cv-232 (W.D. Wis.).

The choice of venue, the Western District of Wisconsin, is interesting.  While Simmons is based in Georgia, and L&G in Carthage, MO, the choice of the W.D. Wisconsin suggests Simmons wants to fast track the litigation.  Venues with "rocket dockets" such as W.D. Wisconsin and the E.D. Virginia are traditionally chosen by plaintiffs asserting infringement.  The selection of a rocket docket by a declaratory judgment plaintiff signals a new use of those venues to absolve a business from potential patent infringement liability.

Monday, April 4, 2011, 11:29 AM

"Slogan Infringement" Covered, Product Name Not Slogan

Following up on a topic of insurance coverage for trademark infringement claims (recently covered on this blog), the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri recently denied Hostess Bakeries' request for summary judgment in which the bakery sought a declaration that its insurer, Onebeacon, must provide coverage in a trademark infringement suit brought by Flowers Bakeries Brands, Inc.  In the infringement suit, which is still pending, Flowers alleges Hostess infringes Flowers' "Nature's Own" mark by using "Nature's Pride" and "Nature's Choice" on bread.

Interestingly, the policy at issue covers "slogan" and "title" infringement but not general trademark infringement.  The district court sided with Onebeacon's interpretation of "slogan" and "title" finding that Flower's suit did not allege "slogan" or "title" infringement, but rather just standard trademark infringement.  Hostess plans to appeal to Eighth Circuit.  The case is Interstate Bakeries Corp. v. Onebeacon Insurance Co., Civil Action 4:09-cv-809 (W.D. Mo.).

The case underscores the need to analyze the "advertising injury" clauses of general commercial liability policies. Any limitations, such as to "slogan" or "title" infringement, should be explored in detail to determine if you have adequate coverage.  In addition, such terms should be defined in the policy - something that did not happen in Hostess' case.

Saturday, April 2, 2011, 4:13 PM

Real Property Hot Topic At Market

While this blog is dedicated to intellectual property issues related to furniture, one of the hot topics in High Point this market is real property.  The maneuvering to control major showroom buildings in High Point is apparently not over, with only the Merchandise Mart finding a definite buyer as of April 1 (no joke).  Here is a round-up of recent news items related to the real estate activity and general market news:

High Point MMPI properties sold for $139.5 million  (Furniture Today)

High Point places tax liens on seven showroom properties  (Furniture Today)

Economy likely to overshadow ownership issues at the furniture market (Winston-Salem Journal)

Las Vegas furniture market building goes into receivership (Winston-Salem Journal)

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