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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Graco Can Proceed with Play Pen Patent Claim

ATLANTA (CN) - A baby gear manufacturer cannot use its patent for an infant foldable bed to rebuff accusations that it infringed Graco's patent for a play pen, a federal judge ruled.

Well known for its car seats, strollers, high chairs and other baby gear, Graco Children's Products is one of the leading kids' products manufacturers in the country. Robert Cone, who previously owned a metal manufacturing company in Philadelphia, founded Graco in the 1950s after successfully developing the first wind-up infant swing.

In a 2013 federal lawsuit, the company claimed a competitor, Kids II, infringed its patent for a folding play pen that can support a changing table and a bassinet, which Graco patented in 2004.

The product at issue is Kids II's InGenuity playard product, described as a "play pen with a bassinet and changing table that quickly fold[s] for portability."

Kids II tried to dismiss the claims, arguing that its product did not infringe Graco's patent and that the Graco patent was invalid. The company also claimed that certain claims within Graco's patent interfered with a claim in a patent owned by Kids II, which covers a "foldable bed which can be detachably mounted onto a crib."

Graco asked the federal court in Atlanta to dismiss Kids II's claim that its patent interferes with the patent for Kids II's foldable bed.

Noting that the specific claims in Graco's patent did not anticipate or render obvious the claim at issue in Kids II's patent, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash found that the claims in the two patents do not interfere.

The Kids II foldable bed patent includes elements not present in Graco's patent, the Feb. 26 opinion states. Moreover, because Graco's patent calls for long axes for the play pen's main frame and second frame, whereas Kids II's product description does not, Kids II's patent does not anticipate Graco's patent either, the court concluded.

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