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A&E PRODUCTS GROUP, L.P. v. MAJNETTI USA INC.

February 24, 2004.

A&E PRODUCTS GROUP, L.P., Plaintiff, -against- MAJNETTI USA INC., et al., Defendants


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT PATTERSON, Senior District Judge Page 2

OPINION AND ORDER

Defendants Mainetti USA Inc., Mainetti S.p.A. and Mainetti (HK) Ltd. (collectively, "Mainetti") move pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for an order declaring that certain patents for clothes hangers with side sizer tabs owned by plaintiff A&E Products Group, L.P. ("A&E") are unenforceable due to prosecution laches. Plaintiff cross moves for an order barring the defense of prosecution laches.

I. BACKGROUND

  The patents at issue are United States Patent Nos. 5,613,629 ("`629 patent"), 5,819,995 ("`995 patent"), and 6,145,713 ("`713 patent"). The `629, `995 and `713 patents were issued to Andrew Zuckerman as divisional or continuation applications relating to earlier patent applications for clothes hangers with side sizer tabs filed by Mr. Zuckerman beginning on October 9, 1990. (Defs. Mem. of Law, dated April 14, 2003 ("Defs. Mem"), at 2.)

  On October 9, 1990, Mr. Zuckerman filed an application for a patent in the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") entitled, "Hanger with Irremovable Information Tab." (Id; see also Decl. of Francis C. Hand, dated March 11, 2003 ("Hand Decl. I"), Ex. 4.)

  On November 22, 1991 applicant filed a continuation application pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 120 which resulted in the issuance on April 6, 1993 of U.S. Patent 5,199,608 ("`608 patent"). (Defs. Mem. at 2.)

  One day prior to the issue date of the `608 patent, applicant filed a divisional application on April 5, 1993 (treated as a continuation application by the Patent Trade Office ("PTO")) that resulted in the issuance of U.S. Patent 5,383,583 ("`583 patent") on January 24, 1995. (Id.) Page 3

  On the issue date of the `583 patent, applicant filed a divisional application on January 24, 1995 that resulted in the issuance of the `943 patent on January 23, 1996. (Id.)

  One day prior to the issue date of the `943 patent, applicant filed a division application on January 22, 1996, an amendment of which filed on March 13, 1996 (Decl. of Francis C. Hand, dated April 24, 2003 ("Hand Decl. II"), Ex. 10) resulted in the issuance of the `629 patent on March 25, 1997. (Defs. Mem. at 2, 9.)

  Prior to the issue date of the `629 patent, applicant filed a continuation application on February 26, 1997, an amendment of which filed on March 20, 1998 (Hand Decl. II, Ex. 9) resulted in the issuance of the `995 patent on October 13, 1998. (Defs. Mem. at 2, 8.)

  On the issue date of the `995 patent, applicant filed a continuation application on October 13, 1998, an amendment of which filed on September 21, 1999 (Hand Decl. II, Ex. 8) resulted in the `713 patent on November 14, 2000. (Defs. Mem. at 2.)

  In accordance with the provisions of Title 35 U.S.C. § 120 of the United States Code and the Rules of the PTO, no changes were made in the original specification in any of the divisional or continuation patent applications. (Id.) The only difference in each of the patents is in the language used in the claims. A&E Prods. Group, L.P. v. Mainetti United States, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24280, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 18, 2002).

 II. DISCUSSION OF ...


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