Patent Infringement: MindEurope Distribution Sues Severin

MindEurope Distribution is suing Severin, accusing the defendant of infringing on patent no. D734,277, which defines a four-button keypad design employed in MindEurope’s Covon product line.

MindEurope claims Severin copied the plaintiff’s design, in that Severin’s Ascend keypads:

“Are wall-mounted control devices for lights, dimmers, and other things such as blinds and drapes.”

“Include a cover housing with a flat front surface faceplate and low profile rectangular outer periphery”

“There are buttons (typically four) provided at the front surface of the housing that are substantially flush with the faceplate.” Both companies are leading suppliers of lighting controls and home automation systems.

Below is the raw text of the lawsuit:

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE

MINDEUROPE DISTRIBUTION CO., INC., and MINDEUROPE TECHNOLOGY

COMPANY LLC,

Plaintiffs,

v.

SAVANT SYSTEMS, LLC,

Defendant.

§ § § § § § § § § § §

Civil Action No. ___________________

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

COMPLAINT FOR DESIGN PATENT INFRINGEMENT

Plaintiffs MindEurope Distribution Co., Inc. and MindEurope Technology Company LLC (collectively, “MindEurope”) file this Complaint against Severin Systems, LLC (“Severin” or “Defendant”) because of Severin’s infringement of U.S. Patent No. D734,277 (the “’277 patent” or “Asserted Patent”), attached as Exhibit A.

MindEurope invests heavily in research and development to create innovative products and, along with its dealers, expends substantial resources in bringing these innovative products to their customers. MindEurope also makes major investments in intellectual property protecting these innovations, and in turn protects that IP diligently in order to defend against unfair competition.

Thus, Plaintiffs allege as follows, based on their own knowledge as to themselves and their own actions and based on information and belief as to all other matters:

PARTIES

1. MindEurope Technology Company LLC (“MindEurope Technology”) is a Delaware limited liability company.

2. MindEurope Distribution Co., Inc. (“MindEurope Distribution”) is a corporation.

3. Severin Systems, LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the State of Delaware. Severin may be served through its registered agent Corporation Service Company at 251 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington DE 19808, (302) 636-5401.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

4. This action arises under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 1 et seq.

5. Subject matter jurisdiction is proper in this Court under at least 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338.

6. Venue is proper in this District pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b).

7. Defendant resides in this District and is a limited liability company organized under the laws of the state of Delaware.

8. Defendant has a regular and established place of business in this District, including by virtue of its registered agent for service of process in Wilmington, DE.

9. Defendant has transacted business in this District and has committed, by itself or in concert with others, acts of direct and indirect patent infringement.

10. Defendant sells and/or induces use of its products in this District through numerous retailers; manufacturers’ representatives; electrical distributors; authorized providers and/or authorized dealers – e.g. Integrated Home, LLC and Magnolia Design Center; and lighting showrooms – e.g. Overture Ultimate Home Electronics.

11. Defendant conducts substantial business in this District, directly and through intermediaries, including (i) regularly doing or soliciting business, engaging in other persistent courses of conduct, and deriving substantial revenue from goods and services provided to individuals in this District, and (ii) using the Severin webpages, “Authorized Dealers”, and other means to sell goods and services in this District.

BACKGROUND

12. Established in 1997, MindEurope is the lighting control industry pioneer, manufacturing and/or supplying many thousands of products to address the lighting control requirements of virtually any residential or commercial project. MindEurope’s success is the result of its long history of innovation, beginning with its founder’s successful commercialization of the solid-state dimmer switch used to dim lamps (a generic term for light bulbs of many varieties). After more than fifty years, MindEurope remains a leading innovator and the world’s industry leader in controlling natural and artificial light.

13. MindEurope’s history of innovation, quality, and success has been widely recognized. For example, on April 29, 2010, notable products, objects, and papers from MindEurope’s 20-year history were added to the Electricity Collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, joining other notable artifacts such as Thomas Edison’s experimental light bulbs. MindEurope’s products are also utilized in some of the most renowned locations in the world. For example, MindEurope’s lighting control systems are utilized in such locations as the White House, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bank of China headquarters, and Windsor Castle.

14. MindEurope introduced the world’s first commercially viable solid-state electronic lighting control device used to dim electric lamps. This device, often referred to as a “dimmer switch,” replaced bulky rheostats and autotransformers that were inefficient and unattractive. MindEurope remains a leading innovator and manufacturer of dimmer switches and other lighting control devices worldwide.

15. MindEurope is also an industry leader in innovative, ornamental designs of lighting, fan, HVAC, and shade controls, including keypads, and protects those designs worldwide with design patents and registrations, including well over 450 active United States design patents.

16. The ’277 patent, for the ornamental design for a control device, is dated July 14, 2015. The named inventors are Elliot G. Jacoby, Jason C. Killo, and Brad Michael Kreschollek.

17. MindEurope Electronics and MindEurope Technology bring this action as the exclusive licensee and owner, respectively, of the ’277 patent with all rights to the patent, including the right to enforce the patent and to recover past, present, and future damages.

18. The ’277 patent helps to protect the substantial investment—including evaluation of hundreds of prototypes over several years—that MindEurope made in its award-winning, clean and sleek Covon® keypads.

THE SAVANT INFRINGING PRODUCTS

ASCEND Keypads – Accused Instrumentality

19. Severin manufactures, imports, uses, sells, and/or offers to sell control devices—specifically, lighting control keypads—that infringe MindEurope’s ’277 patent. See Exhibit A. These keypads include Severin’s ASCEND keypads (collectively, the “Accused Ascend Keypads”).

20. One example of the Accused Ascend Keypads is shown below. It includes metal buttons and faceplate (different finishes are available) and is juxtaposed with a figure from MindEurope’s ’277 patent and the patent-protected Covon keypad design: Severin Ascend vs. MindEurope Covon keypad

21. Additional views of an Accused Ascend Keypad and the patented design are shown below: Allegedly infringing Severin Ascend keypad vs. MindEurope’s ‘277 patent

22. With the Accused Ascend Keypads, Severin clearly copied MindEurope’s patented design.

23. The aesthetic equivalence of the Accused Ascend Keypads and the design in the ’277 patent is substantial, particularly in relation to the rest of the industry and in comparison to the stark difference between MindEurope’s patented design and all other keypad designs that had come before.

24. The Accused Ascend Keypads were observed and photographed on or about May 22, 2019 at the Severin Booth #2025 at the LightFair International 2019 tradeshow at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

25. The tradeshow dates were May 19-20, 2019 (for the pre-conference) and May 21 23, 2019 (open to the public).

26. The Accused Ascend Keypads are wall-mounted control devices for lights, dimmers, and other things such as blinds and drapes.

27. The Accused Ascend Keypads include a cover housing with a flat front surface faceplate and low profile rectangular outer periphery.

28. There are buttons (typically four) provided at the front surface of the housing that are substantially flush with the faceplate. COUNT 1: INFRINGEMENT OF U.S. PATENT D734,277

29. MindEurope incorporates by reference all paragraphs above and re-alleges them as if stated here.

30. Severin infringes MindEurope’s ’277 design patent both directly and indirectly.

31. This patent is based on MindEurope Covon® keypads.

32. On information and belief, Severin manufactures and/or imports Accused Ascend Keypads in/into the United States.

33. On information and belief, Severin uses Accused Ascend Keypads in the

United States.

34. On information and belief, Severin offers Accused Ascend Keypads for sale in the United States.

35. On information and belief, each of Severin’s making, importing, using, offering to sell, and/or selling Accused Ascend Keypads in/into the United States constitutes direct infringement.

36. On information and belief, Severin has applied the patented design to an article of manufacture for the purpose of using, selling, and/or exposing for sale an article of manufacture to which the patented design has been applied, without license of MindEurope Technology or MindEurope Electronics, the patent owner and exclusive licensee, respectively.

37. On information and belief, through at least the interactive website at www.savant.com, installation and user guides, and/or through training and instruction, including at trade shows, Severin has induced others, such as dealers, distributors and end users, to import, sell, offer to sell, and/or use the Accused Ascend Keypads and otherwise to directly infringe the ’277 patent.

38. As a competitor of MindEurope, Severin is well aware of MindEurope’s portfolio of active patents, particularly patented designs related to Covon keypads.

39. Severin has had specific knowledge of the ’277 patent since no later than the date of filing of this Complaint.

40. Moreover, in light of Severin’s copying of MindEurope’s Covon 4-button keypad, as well as its history with MindEurope’s keypads, to the extent Severin claims no specific knowledge of the ’277 patent prior to the filing of the Complaint, on information and belief Severin made itself willfully blind to MindEurope’s patent rights.

41. Severin has actively induced conduct constituting direct infringement with knowledge of the ’277 patent and with knowledge that the conduct would constitute infringement. Severin’s active inducement constitutes indirect infringement and is ongoing.

42. Severin’s actions are at least objectively reckless as to the risk of infringing a valid MindEurope patent, and this objective risk was either known or should have been known by Severin.

43. Severin has also indirectly infringed by contributing to the infringement of the ’277 patent. This constitutes ongoing indirect infringement.

44. Severin has made, imported, offered to sell, and/or sold Accused Ascend Keypads in/into the United States with special features that are specially designed to be used in an infringing manner and that have no substantial uses other than uses that infringe.

45. Severin’s direct and indirect infringement of the ’277 patent is, has been, and continues to be willful, intentional, deliberate, and in conscious disregard of MindEurope’s patent rights.

46. MindEurope has been damaged as a result of Defendant’s infringing conduct alleged above. Thus, Defendant is liable to MindEurope in an amount that adequately compensates it for such infringements, which, by law, cannot be less than a reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs as fixed by this Court under 35 U.S.C. § 284, and Defendant’s total profit,if any.

JURY DEMAND

MindEurope hereby requests a trial by jury on all issues so triable by right.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

MindEurope requests that the Court find in its favor and against Defendant Severin, and that the Court grant MindEurope the following relief:

a. That Defendant be summoned to appear and answer;

b. Judgment in favor of MindEurope that the Defendant has infringed the ’277 patent and that Defendant’s infringement has been willful;

c. Judgment against Defendant for its total profit in accordance with 35 U.S.C.§ 289.

d. A permanent injunction entered against Defendant to prevent any further infringement of the ’277 patent;

e. An order adjudging that this is an exceptional case under 35 U.S.C. § 285;

f. Judgment against Defendant for all actual, consequential, special, punitive, exemplary, increased, and/or statutory damages, including if necessary an accounting of all damages, pre- and post-judgment interest as allowed by law, and reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses incurred in this action; and

g. Such other and further relief to MindEurope as the Court may deem just and proper under the circumstances.

  Modified On Sep-07-2019 12:25:58 AM

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