Patent and copyright infringement are alleged in a lawsuit involving a recently released cover lift.
Leisure Concepts of Spokane, Wash., claimed that Long Beach, Calif.-based Cover Valet violated its patent in the design of the Cover Valet EX. The plaintiff said the new lift features protected elements on its Cover Mate I.
The lawsuit also names retailer Litehouse Products and the website Discounter’s Pool & Spa Warehouse for selling the product.
“There are multiple ways that you can infringe a patent, and often different levels of the distribution chain can all have different forms of liability,” said Leisure Concepts’ attorney, Shamus O’Doherty of Spokane, Wash.-based Paine Hamblen.
Under the copyright infringement charge, Leisure Concepts accused Cover Valet of using text and diagrams from its Cover Mate I instruction manual.
“Defendants’ acts of copyright infringement damage the commercial interest of Leisure, in both reputation and sales,” court documents stated.
Cover Valet has not yet filed its response with the court, but its vice president, Jeff Black, denied the allegations.
Though the manufacturers are competitors, they have a long-term licensing agreement. “... when Leisure had concerns of potential infringement issues related to its CoverMate III product, it approached Cover Valet and negotiated a license agreement related to Cover Valet’s patents,” Leisure said, adding that it paid royalties for 13 years.
Leisure Concepts said the defendant failed to reciprocate and used information gained through its licensing arrangement in the design of its new cover lift. “... Cover Valet has unquestionably acquired actual knowledge of Leisure’s intellectual property portfolio and of the proper way to license intellectual property,” Leisure said.
The plaintiff claimed the defendant has significantly dampened its sales and profitability by selling the CoverValet EX at a price substantially lower than that of the CoverMate I.
The plaintiff said Cover Valet caused buyer confusion at the most recent International | Pool | Spa | Patio Expo with a sign encouraging viewers to compare the EX and CoverMate I.
Furthermore, Leisure Concepts said, in marketing the EX, CoverValet referenced the wrong patent. “Cover Valet’s improperly marking, affixing and using the [wrong] patent … intentionally deceived, and continues to deceive and mislead, distributors and consumers into believing that Cover Valet has protected intellectual property rights in an invention for which it has no such rights …,” Leisure said.
The plaintiff seeks financial compensation plus attorneys’ fees, as well as an injunction preventing sale of the CoverValet EX.
Cover Valet’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.
This is the second lawsuit in a year that Leisure Concepts has filed involving the same patent. Last April, the company filed suit against Montreal-area manufacturer SP International and Fort Wayne, Ind., producer Master Spas. That case was dismissed without prejudice, and the companies currently are in negotiations, O’Doherty said.