By Erin Geiger Smith
Jan 25 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a
lawsuit against Bed Bath & Beyond that claims the retailer stole
the design for a towel with pockets.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that
the lawsuit filed by inventor Roger Hall met the necessary
pleading standards and properly explained how he believed the
Bed Bath & Beyond towel infringed his design.
The decision reverses a December 2010 ruling by U.S.
District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan. The Federal
Circuit found that Hellerstein erred in holding that a plaintiff
pursuing a design patent claim needs to identify in an initial
complaint what is "new, original, and ornamental" about the
Bed Bath & Beyond did not immediately respond to a request
for comment on the ruling. An attorney for Hall also was not
Hall had a patent pending on the towel's design when he met
with representatives of the retailer in 2009, according to
details of his complaint included in the Federal Circuit
Hall contended that he left samples of his packaged towel
with the company and that copies of the towel were made for sale
in its stores, according to the opinion. When Hall's patent was
granted, he sued Bed Bath & Beyond for infringement of his
The three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit said that
Hall's lawsuit should be allowed to proceed because it argues
that an ordinary observer would be deceived by the resemblance
between his towel and the retailer's.
At the same time, the court also upheld the lower court's
dismissal of individual claims Hall had filed against a Bed Bath
& Beyond employee.
The court awarded Hall costs incurred in the appeal.
The case is Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Federal Circuit, No. 2011-1165.
For plaintiff: Mitchell Shelowitz of Pearl Cohen Zedek
For Bed Bath & Beyond: Laura Wytsma of Loeb & Loeb.
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