Arlington-Bridgeport Fittings Patent Dispute Continues

The long-running court battles between Arlington Industries Inc., Scranton, Pa., and Bridgeport Fittings Inc., Stratford, Conn., will be heading to federal appeals court.

Arlington and Bridgeport are involved in two separate court cases (initially brought by Arlington in 2001 and 2006) that were heard by two different judges in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. They involve Arlington's U.S. Patents No. 5,266,050 and No. 6,521,831 (called “050” patent and “831” patent, respectively) for its Snap-Tite connectors and the company's allegations that some of Bridgeport's Whipper-Snap products infringe on these patents.

For those keeping score at home, Bridgeport will appeal the March 29 court order by Judge Christopher C. Connor that increased Arlington's damages to nearly $3.6 million from the $2.8 million the jury had previously awarded Arlington in lost profits for Bridgeport's sale of 30 Whipper-Snap products adjudged to infringe Arlington's 050 patent, and for breach of the settlement agreement entered into by the parties in 2004.

Arlington has appealed the Sept. 1, 2009 decision by District Judge A. Richard Caputo in U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania that found Bridgeport's Whipper-Snap connector did not infringe on either the 050 or 831 Arlington patents and that Arlington is not entitled to any damages.

In addition to these two court cases, Bridgeport has commenced a separate proceeding before the U.S. Patent Office. The company said the patent office has found that claims in issue and relevant with the 831 patent are invalid, and that Arlington has been required to appeal that decision.

All in all, it looks like the court cases are somewhere in the middle innings, and that the appeals processes could potentially extend past December 2011, when Arlington's 050 patent expires. Press releases issued by Arlington and Bridgeport both claimed victory and said both companies were pleased with different aspects of Judge Connor's March 29 court order. Until the courts sort out the dispute, Bridgeport Fittings can continue selling the products in question.

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