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Patent Office Favors Bell’O Claim, Company Announces

Bell’O International Corp. has announced that, on May 29 and 31, the United States Patent & Trademark Office issued Actions Closing Prosecution rejecting claims of certain patents held by Whalen Furniture Manufacturing that are the basis of that company’s infringement action against Bell’O and Z-Line Designs. The ruling allows the patent office to continue proceedings to determine if the patents are invalid because of prior art publication, essentially the existence of the 3-in-1 television mounts in question before a patent was formally pursued.

Bell’O noted that it requested inter partes reexamination of U.S. Patent No. 8,079,311 and No. 8,191,485 held by Whalen. Based on those patents, Whalen filed suit against Bell’O on December 19, 2011, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

In commenting on the ruling, Marc Sculler, Bell’O CEO, said, “We are very pleased that the PTO has confirmed its invalidity rejections after hearing Whalen’s response and has now issued Actions Closing Prosecution, again rejecting all of Whalen’s ‘311 and ‘485 patent claims as invalid in the reexamination. Bell’O has not infringed any of Whalen’s alleged patent rights, and Bell’O will continue to vigorously defend against the complaint’s allegations. As a leading designer and manufacturer of furniture and consumer electronic accessories, Bell’O holds over 200 worldwide patents, trademarks and copyrights. Bell’O respects intellectual property rights and takes care to avoid infringements. Bell’O will continue to pursue invalidity of Whalen’s ‘311 and ‘485 patents via the PTO reexamination proceedings and in the lawsuit.”

Whalen did not respond to a request for comment by post time.