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United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division
August 9, 2021, Decided; August 9, 2021, Filed
Case No. 1:20-cv-3941-MLB
[*1300] OPINION & ORDER
Plaintiff Merrill Manufacturing Company sued Defendant Simmons Manufacturing Company for design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair competition. (Dkt. 31.) Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for induced, contributory, and willful patent infringement. (Dkt. 34.) [**2] The Court grants Defendant's motion as to the contributory infringement claim but denies the motion as to the induced and willful infringement claims.
Plaintiff is an Iowa corporation in the business of developing, manufacturing, and selling a device known as a "terminal block." (Dkt. 31 ¶ 15.) Inside each terminal block are several copper mechanical wire connectors that can be used by electricians to connect wires in an electrical system. (Dkt. 31-1.)1 Although Plaintiff has sold its mechanical blocks since at least 2018, it only obtained a patent for the copper mechanical connector inside its terminal blocks in April 2020. (Dkts. 31 ¶ 17; 31-1.) But Plaintiff claims that, even before obtaining the patent, it continuously marketed its terminal block under a unique and distinctive trade dress consisting of: (1) chamfered top edges on the sideplates; (2) chamfered side edges on the sideplates; (3) a molded-in edge line running the length of the sideplates and the top plate; (4) elevated platforms on the sideplates; (5) sharp transition edges on the sideplates transitioning from the platforms to ramps; (6) sharp transition edges on the sideplates transitioning from the ramps [**3] to the upper surfaces of the sideplates; (7) decorative center rib defining a shelf extending from the top plate; (8) decorative center boss and ramp extending from the top plate; and (9) multifaceted rear plates of spring stop comprising curved and flat surfaces defining a shelf. (Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff refers to these elements collectively as the "MTB Trade Dress." (Id.)
Defendant is a Georgia corporation also in the business of selling terminal blocks [*1301] and associated components. (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff claims that Defendant markets and offers for sale terminal blocks in the United States that are "virtually identical" to the MBT Trade Dress. (Id. ¶ 28.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant adopted its MBT Trade Dress "with the intent to deceive its consumers as the source or origin of its terminal blocks. (Id. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff identifies one of Defendant's infringing terminal blocks as a product Defendant sells under the name "SIMMONS Quick Set Wire Connections Pressure Switch," including a specific item Plaintiff identifies as #SIMS4060 (the "Accused Device"). (Id. ¶¶ 51-52.)
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
553 F. Supp. 3d 1297 *; 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148508 **; 2021 WL 3493565
Merrill Manufacturing Company, Plaintiff, v. Simmons Manufacturing Company, Defendant.
infringement, willful, induced, patent, contributory, egregious, courts, patent-in-suit, blocks, amended complaint, enhanced damage, terminal, allegations, patent infringement, motion to dismiss, Manufacturing, trade dress, pre-suit, selling, infringement claim, connector, post-suit, import, wire