A Growing Trend: Expired-Patent Lawsuits

(CN) – People are increasingly filing lawsuits over expired patents. An engineer’s claim against Sigma-Aldrich, a chemical company, is the twelfth such claim filed this year in courts covered by Courthouse News. Lawsuits over labels marked with expired patents are not a new cause of action, but the sudden surge in such claims is new.

     Harold Josephs sued Sigma-Aldrich in Detroit Federal Court on Tuesday, citing seven chemical products he claims the company falsely labels as patented, though the patents have expired.
     Josephs, a professional engineer, says he sued in the public interest “to enforce the policy underlying the false marking statute, 35 U.S.C. §292.”
     The complaint adds: “The Patent Act of 1952 retained a qui tam cause of action on behalf of the public to fine the offender in an amount of up to $500 for each offense, with half going to the use of the United States, and the other half going to the person bringing the action.”
     Other defendants sued on similar allegations this year include Timex (in Dallas), Clorox (Chicago), Mag Instrument (Alabama), Crayola and Hallmark (Chicago), and Bayer Healthcare (Delaware).
     Twelve lawsuits over expired patents were filed in 2009 in courts covered by Courthouse News, and 15 were filed in 2008.
     Josephs is represented in Detroit Federal Court by Robert Tuttle with Brooks Kushman of Southfield, Mich.

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