9 November 2018

IP attorney sues Walmart over flashlight design patent

An IP attorney has accused Walmart of infringing a design patent covering a baseball bat-shaped flashlight.

Neal Cohen, an IP lawyer at Vista IP Law Group in Irvine, California, filed his lawsuit against the American retailer at the US District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday, November 7.

At the centre of the complaint is US design patent number D487,321, called ‘Flashlight’, which was issued in March 2004 for a term of 14 years.

‘Flashlight’ covers “the ornamental design for the flashlight”, according to documents filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Images of the patented design show a baseball bat-shaped object with a key attached by a keyring on one end, and a flashlight on the other.

Cohen’s complaint does not indicate whether, or how, his patented design is used.

Cohen claimed that Walmart manufactured, sold, and imported—in California and other districts—products which infringe the ‘321 design patent, during its term, online and in store.

Walmart’s infringing products are listed as the Tacbat flashlight, the Q5 LED Baseball Bat Security Camping Torch Long Emergency Light Flashlight, the Ozark Trail Mini Bat Light, the Stalwart CREE 17 in LED Aluminium Safety Flashlight Bat, and the LED Security Stick Bat Flashlight.

“The Walmart products embody the patented design of the ‘321 patent and/or colourable imitations thereof,” Cohen alleged.

Cohen said he has been “damaged” by the infringement.

He has asked the court to award no less than $1 million in damages, in addition to all profits made from the sale of the disputed products and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Cohen is not the only party to file a complaint against Walmart in California this week.

Also on Wednesday, medical device manufacture Altair Instruments accused Walmart of infringing US patent number 6,241,739.

Altair’s patent covers a microdermabrasion device and a method of treating the surface of skin. It involves the removal of epidermis without damaging the dermis of the skin, via a vacuum and a tube system.

Walmart sells skin care devices, online and in store, which infringe several claims of the ‘739 patent, according to the suit.

Altair has asked the court for injunctive and monetary relief, as well as legal costs.

Speaking to WIPR, a spokesperson for Walmart said: “We take claims like this seriously and are responding as appropriate in court.”

The two complaints come shortly after a UK hair company accused Walmart of infringing patent and trademark rights relating to a hair curling brand.

And earlier this year, agricultural technology company Zest Labs said that Walmart had stolen trade secrets relating to technology for reducing food waste.

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More on this story

3 August 2018   An agricultural technology company has accused American retailer Walmart of stealing trade secrets relating to technology for reducing food waste.
19 October 2018   A UK hair company has sued Walmart for infringing patent and trademark rights protecting its hair curling brand, Curlformers.