Two Major Manufacturers Duke It out in Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Arlington Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of electrical and communications products, announced that a federal jury in Harrisburg, Pa ruled in its favor in its patent infringement and breach of contract suit against Bridgeport Fittings Inc. The unanimous Jury found that 30 types of Whipper-Snap products infringed Arlington’s U.S. Patent No. 5,266,050 and that the infringement was willful. The Jury also found that Bridgeport breached its contract with Arlington by selling Whipper-Snap products that were colorable imitations of its previous products, which Bridgeport was prohibited from selling by court order since March of 2004. The Jury awarded Arlington nearly $2.8 million in lost profits for the 17 million infringing products Bridgeport sold. Concerning the Jury award, Arlington’s President Tom Stark stated: “We are very pleased with the result. We plan to ask the Court to triple the $2.8 million damage award based on Bridgeport’s willful conduct and to immediately remove the infringing Whipper-Snap products from the market.”

The Patent covers Arlington’s Snap-Tite connectors, which are quick connect electrical fittings for junction boxes that permit users to snap the fitting into the box without the need for tools or locknuts. In 2004, Bridgeport also admitted to infringing one of Arlington’s patents on its Snap-2-It products, which permit users to snap the cables into the connector and then snap the connector into the box without tools. The 5,266,050 Patent gives Arlington the right to exclude others from making its external adaptor ring until December 2011, while Arlington’s Snap-2-It patent gives Arlington the right to exclude others from making similar products with an external and internal ring at least until 2018.

Bridgeport issued a release on Sept. 28 release concerning “a long-running patent infringement dispute between electrical industry competitors Bridgeport Fittings and Arlington Industries.” It states: “A Federal District Court Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued final judgments in favor of Bridgeport Fittings on Sept. 1, 2009. The Court determined that Bridgeport’s accused Whipper-Snap duplex connectors are not covered by and do not infringe Arlington’s ’050 and ’831 patents.”

According to the release, “Bridgeport and Arlington also are involved in a second patent infringement lawsuit, assigned to a different judge, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. This second case involves similar Whipper-Snap products and despite Bridgeport’s belief this case was barred by the first judge’s earlier non-infringement ruling, the second judge went ahead with trial and on Sept. 25, 2009 a jury found in favor of Arlington.”

The release also notes that Bridgeport “will appeal the Sept. 25 decision and remains confident all infringement claims asserted by Arlington ultimately will be dismissed, as the first court already has ruled on Sept. 1.

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