Oral Arguments in Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc: FREE DOWNLOAD - Complaint/Opinion, Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, et al., 08civ10369 (SDNY)

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in the case of Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc., Nos. 09-1428 et al.  The court must decide whether appellant Stauffer has standing to sue the apparel company for labeling  adjustable bowties with expired design patents, in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 292.  Section 292 prohibits marking an unpatented article with words to make it appear as if the item is patented "for the purpose of deceiving the public."1  The law also establishes a fine of up to $500 per falsely marked article.2  Last year, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein granted Brooks Brothers' motion to dismiss, finding that Stauffer lacked standing to pursue his claims.3  Stauffer then appealed.

In his 2008 qui tam action, Stauffer, an attorney at Carella, Byrne, Bain, Gilfillan, Cecchi, Stewart & Olstein in Roseland, N.J., alleged that Brooks Brothers "falsely marked at least 121 different species of the bow tie products from their current fashion collection with two expired U.S. patents . . . ." [emphasis original].  The two patents, Stauffer claimed, expired in 1954 and 1955.  Under US patent law, "the right of a patentee, assignee or license to exclude others from making, using offering for sale, or selling the invention theretofore covered" terminates indefinitely when the patent expires.   Stauffer has asked the court to order Brooks Brothers to pay a civil monetary fine of $500 per false marking, and to award Stauffer reasonable attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285.4

[1] 35 U.S.C. § 292 (2010).

[2] See 35 U.S.C § 292 (2010).

[3] See Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, -- F. Supp. --, No. 08-cv-10369-SHS (S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2009).

[4] See 35 U.S.C. § 285 (2010).

View the complaint and the opinion from Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, et al., 08civ10369 (SDNY)