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Flambeau claims victory in patent fight

By: Frank Antosiewicz

January 17, 2014

A Utah federal district court judge has ruled that Flambeau Inc. did not infringe on patent claims filed by Etagz Inc., of Springvale, Utah.

According to court documents, Judge Bruce Jenkins ruled Dec. 13 in the U.S. District Court of Utah that all patent claims asserted by Etagz against Flambeau were invalid.

Etagz had said that 81 of Flambeau's Duncan Toy Co.'s products and Flambeau Outdoor Products infringed on three of its patents by including instructional CD-ROMs or DVDs.

Flambeau, based in Baraboo, Wis., makes yoyos as well as hunting and fishing products.

Etagz owns patents that allow for the attachment of digital media to products that are sold at the retail level. It has vigorously tried to enforce its patents through the court system and its website lists many licensing agreements it has won from brand owners.

Flambeau President Jason Sauey called Etagz "patent trolls" in a statement.

"While the attorney's fees needed to fight such suits may be greater than what a charging plaintiff will settle for, Flambeau and the rest of the Nordic Group of Cos. Ltd. believe in standing on principle and will not pay demands to license patents that are invalid and/or not infringed," he said. "We would rather go the distance in litigation then pay undeserved windfall to such parties. In short we are unwilling to reward the extortionist demands of patent trolls."

Flambeau was represented in the lawsuit by the law firm Quarles & Brady LLP of Madison, Wis.

"We believed that the patents at issue did not embody anything that had not been done before and, therefore, that Flambeau was not liable for patent infringement. The court agreed and invalidated the asserted claims," said attorney Josephine Benkers, of Quarles & Brady in a news release.

Flambeau, established in 1947 and owned by the Nordic Group, does a variety of manufacturing operations including injection molding, blow molding and insert molding.

Etagz did not respond to a request for comment.