Delta says Price Pfister copied faucet

Masco Corp’s Delta Faucet Div filed a patent infringement suit against Price Pfister in Jun 1994. The suit claims the Price Pfister Genesis Model 42 faucet launched in Jan 1994 is an exact replica of the Delta Model 520 Series faucet introduced in 1990. Delta seeks damages for patent infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition and lost sales. The trial is expected to be completed by Dec 1994.

INDIANAPOLIS – A patent infringement suit in which Masco Corp. of Indiana alleges competitor Price Pfister copied a lavatory faucet made by Delta Faucet, a division of Masco, is expected to be resolved by mid-November.

A jury trial for the suit is scheduled for federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, known as the “rocket docket” for its quick disposal of cases, said Robert Neuner, an attorney with the law firm of Brumbaugh, Graves, Donohue and Raymond representing Masco. Masco Corp. of Indiana filed a patent infringement suit in June in U.S. District Court in Virginia alleging that competitor Price Pfister is selling a lavatory faucet copied from a product made by Delta.

The suit involves Price Pfister’s Genesis Model 42 lavatory faucet, which the manufacturer introduced in January. Delta, based in Indianapolis, alleges in its suit that Price Pfister’s product deliberately copies Delta’s successful. patented Model 520 Series escutcheon design first offered in 1990. Delta says that while Price Pfister’s copying of its faucet design acknowledges Delta’s leadership in faucet styling and design, the Delta patent and trademark rights are valuable assets of the company and does not knowingly permit their infringement.

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According to the complaint, Delta’s escutcheon design for its lavatory faucets is inherently distinctive and uniquely different from any other lavatory faucet design. The new design, which has been extensively promoted and advertised, was instantly successful when introduced. More than 1 million of the faucets were sold in 1993, the complaint said. The visual appearance of Price Pfister’s imitation faucet so resembles Delta’s single-handle lavatory faucet that it’s likely to and designed to cause confusion and to deceive, according to the complaint.

In addition to claims for patent infringement, Delta also seeks damages for unfair competition and trade dress infringement under the U.S. Lanham Act and under Virginia Common Law. According to Neuner, the company is seeking a court order stopping Price Pfister from selling the allegedly copied faucet. Masco also is seeking damages either in the form of profits derived from the sales of the copied product, lost sales by Delta or a reasonable royalty, he said. The trial is expected to start in October or November.

In response, Price Pfister issued a press release calling the Masco lawsuit “groundless” and vowing to “vigorously contest Masco’s claims.” Price Pfister contends that the Genesis lavatory escutcheon design is new and different from the Delta design and strongly denies the charges in the Masco lawsuit. On June 29 Price Pfister filed a counter-claim alleging that Delta has competed unfairly and Masco engaged in abusive action, Neuner said. Masco’s reply was expected to be filed July 19.

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