The trial and appeal board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, after a petition by Pacific Market International, has invalidated certain claims in a patent held by Ignite USA related to the sealed, trigger-activated drinking lid on thermal beverageware marketed by Ignite under the Contigo brand.
PMI’s petition for a review of the Ignite patent followed the February 2014 filing by Ignite of a lawsuit against PMI alleging patent infringement of Ignite’s patent (U.S. Patent 7,997,442). That ‘442 patent covered “a sealed drink container with at least two trigger-actuated apertures in the lid, one through which the user drinks the beverage and another for venting pressure.”
The U.S. patent appeal board, citing prior art from three patents (U.S. Patents 3,967,748, 4,303,173 and 4,136,799) issued before the Ignite ‘442 patent, ruled that certain claims in the Ignite patent related to a trigger mechanism, vented seal and aperture shutter, were not patentable.
“PMI is a product innovation company who takes pride in our innovation while greatly respecting the intellectual property of others,” stated Robert Harris, CEO of PMI, in a company press release. “We knew with great certainty that Contigo’s ‘442 patent was not ‘inventive’ by any measure but instead was based on technology well-known to everyone in the market since the 1970s. The decision clearly validates this.”
Sami El-Saden, CEO of Ignite, recently acquired by Newell Rubbermand, said the USPTO decision addressed only a portion of the claims. “In fact, in an earlier decision entered on September 30, 2014, the USPTO refused to institute PMI’s challenge to certain claims of the ‘442 patent. As a result, those claims were not affected by the decision,” El-Saden noted. “Ignite does not take patent infringement lightly and will continue to enforce our intellectual property rights to defend a legacy of innovation from those seeking to infringe on our patents and exploit them for commercial gain,” he said.
Ignite’s ‘442 patent remains at issue in a pending patent infringement lawsuit against PMI in the Northern District of Illinois, noted El-Saden.