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Court Nixes $8 Million Basketball Patent Verdict

(CN) - The Federal Circuit vacated an $8 million jury verdict against Molten USA for false advertising and patent infringement in a dispute with basketball maker Baden Sports.

Molten and Baden compete in the "high-end basketball business," according to the ruling. Baden accused Molten of importing "dual-cushion" basketballs that infringe on its patented game-quality balls. The patent covers basketballs with raised seams and a layer of padding under the outer covering.

After a jury awarded Baden more than $8 million for the false-advertising claim and $38,000 for patent infringement, Molten unsuccessfully moved for a new trial and judgment as a matter of law.

The federal appeals court vacated denial of Molten's motions, ruling that the Lanham Act did not apply in this case, because there is no market confusion.

"Baden has not argued that someone other than Molten produces the infringing basketballs," Judge Lourie wrote, adding that nothing in the record indicated that Molten does not actually produce the balls.

"Thus, Baden's claims are not actionable ... because they do not cause confusion as to the origin of the basketballs."

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