A Basketball Brawl : Patently Pointless?
Our Guest Blogger, Jennifer Lane, has lived in an array of places, from a monastery in the Himalayas to the "Entertainment Capital of the World." She currently works as an attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. She wanted to share the fun side of patents with the readers of InventorSpot.com.
Here's her article:
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The NBA Playoffs are nearing an end, with the Finals just around the corner. This year the San Antonio Spurs will duel it out against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs and the Cavaliers aren't the only things in basketball that have been fighting their way to the top. Last week, in Washington State, it was the Baden basketball versus the Molten basketball.
So what was the hoopla all about? In 1997, Baden Sports, Inc. produced an ultra-fancy basketball with "Cushion Control Technology" or (CCT). The finished CCT ball has skin panels on the outside that are bordered by rubber seams. Underneath these panels is a cellular sponge layer that sits on top of the bladder of the ball .
Recently, Molten Corporation began manufacturing a basketball with "Dual Cushion Technology." A ball made with Dual Cushion Technology has sponge padding under the rubber seams and the exterior skin panels (in contrast to a ball made with Cushion Control Technology that only has the sponge padding under the exterior panels).
Molten's move caused Baden to bristle, ultimately resulting in a lawsuit with Baden screaming "Patent Infringement!" After all, the balls are fairly similar. Baden does seem to have a point. But wait, Molten said Baden's case should be thrown out of court. According to Molten, Baden's patent was invalid to begin with because it was just a combination of other previous basketball designs. In fact, there were at least 15 other patented basketball designs registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when Baden bounced its ball onto the court.
So what's the result? The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington said, "We don't know." Molten made some good points, but did not provide the Court with enough evidence to show the Baden ball was just a knock off from previous designs. So the case will continue at the trial court level, and Baden is still screaming "Patent Infringement!"
That begs the question, will the two companies decide to settle their differences by merging? They could call themselves "Bad Molt."