Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fishing or Hunting?

The Ford Report has reported the filing of a lawsuit against JT, K2 & KEE Action Sports by the Blenheim Trust (BVI) Limited. Broadly, the suit involves claims that the defendants used expired patents to inhibit fair competition and that they must have knowingly used those patents. (There's a link to the filed documents at The Ford Report.) On one hand it might be seen as (paintball) business as usual. And, I suppose, to a certain extent that's just what it is. What I find interesting is the involvement of the Blenheim Trust--and some of the language in the lawsuit.

Blenheim has no visible connection to PBIndustry. It is based off shore in the Caribbean and it provides a wide variety of what it calls post incorporation services along with a laundry list of other financial services.

The language of the suit--while not uncommon--leaves open the possibility of naming additional defendants as the process unfolds. In a related curiosity the suit names JT, K2 & KEE but there is no mention of Jarden despite the fact they are part of the chain of ownership that is alleged to have misused expired patents.

Now for the fun part. As a matter of pure speculation it appears that some element of PBIndustry has hired Blenheim to pursue this suit. (Here's a couple more free guesses. Whoever passed the info to TFR is likely the interested industry party. Two, TFR will strenuously deny it, which is fine as it's just a guess.) Is the action of Blenheim in filing this suit a matter of expertise or is Blenheim functioning as a blind? Whatever is going on it's an intriguing change of pace, don't you think?

UPDATE: The kids at the Big Bullet have an interesting take that may shed some more light on the Blenheim lawsuit.

UPDATE II: Two additional, similar lawsuits filed by Blenheim have come to light against Clark Recreation & International Innovation. Perhaps the way to characterize Blenheim is to compare them with The Crimson Permanent Assurance.


Anonymous said...

Procaps or Gi Milsim.

My bet is on Procaps.

Reiner Schafer said...


Who else knows about patents and has recently thrown their hat in the ring for market share?

Baca Loco said...

There's at least one more good candidate. :-)

abc said...

Hmmmm... I wouldn't think this is the case. But it would be interesting for a party who was interested in getting broad patent law interpretation curtailed to use an obscure industry with little to in the way of resources to defend a lengthy battle.

For instance, if you're a pharmaceutical company, you can fight against another 100billion dollar pharm. to have some kind of precedent, or you can pick an example in another industry that will only cost a few million bucks.

I'm not saying this is the case, as I doubt our legal battles are that noticeable, or even if this is a valid legal tactic. But it will be nice the day that patent laws sit examined closely by those who have the ability to make some change.

Baca Loco said...

Not gonna happen in this case because the suit is a simple one. Either the named defendants were using expired patents as if they still held legal force or they weren't. The suit makes no claims about the substance or legitimacy of the original patents.

raehl said...

I'm a regular reader of the Wall Street Journal, so I was pretty sure as soon as I saw the post on ProPB that I knew what was up.

This has nothing to do with paintball or anyone in paintball. Companies make packaging/product molds with patent numbers, and forget to take them off when the patents expire. There is a law on the books that says you can be sued for putting an expired patent number on a product. If you see an expired patent number on a product, YOU (as in, anyone) can sue the manufacturer and recover $500 in damaged.

When the law was written, $500 was probably a lot. Now, probably not worth even filing the case.

Except last year a court ruled that it's not $500 per patent number or product, but $500 for EVERY ITEM SOLD.

So now there are people scouring products looking for expired patent numbers and an easy payday. This appears to be such a lawsuit.

I expect that after a couple appeals, the court ruling will be overturned to $500 per product in violation. No sane person could believe congress intended there to be a $500 fine for putting an expired patent number on a $30 item.

bronc said...

Hello frivolous law suit.

Companies like Blenheim thrive on doing nothing other then filing law suits against people. They are about as bad as patent companies who gather up patents just so they can sue others over them.

Blenheim is another prime example of our broken legal system.

No wonder 99% of the lawyers in the world are in the US.

abc said...

Wait... I thought this place was in the Caribbean. Everyone knows never trust a Jamaican who wants your money!

Furby said...

Sources and Methods, Paul...Sources and Methods.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the 'informant' is industry related (the cases are available on-line), and whether or not they are in anyway involved with the cases is really unimportant; mischief and mean-spiritedness at worst.
The big issue is our industry's vulnerability to this kind of thing. Realize that once a firm like Blenheim&c start looking at an industry, they aren't going to stop after one success and others will be looking in our direction as well. Who knows what future court ruling is going to change yet another 'nuisance' law into major dollars?
Rather than 'ratting each other out' (which seems to be the presumption of the day), we ought to be cooperating to prevent such things from affecting our industry.
Dollars going outside the industry doesn't help ANYONE in the industry.

Baca Loco said...

My guess was less about TFR than it was about how PBIndustry frequently plays their game.

And, you'll have to shave it before I consider kissing it. ;-)

On the flipside, Anon, maybe the industry will be a little more scrupulous in how they conduct their business.