The blender battle of 2005 has ended. No harm, no foul.
Both sides called a truce in the skirmish between Conair Group and Maguire Products Inc., under an agreement filed Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. Maguire agreed that Conair's TrueBlend gravimetric blender does not infringe on any Maguire patent. In return, Conair will not challenge the validity of Maguire's patents.
No money changed hands between Conair and Maguire, according to both companies.
The legal scrap began when lawyers from Aston, Pa.-based Maguire sent a letter to Conair in March 2005, warning that Conair's planned introduction of the TrueBlend would infringe on Maguire's patents. In April, Pittsburgh-based Conair fired back by filing the district court complaint against Maguire.
Conair worked with Motan GmbH, a German auxiliary equipment maker, to share the blender technology.
Conair wanted a ruling from the federal judge, Terrence McVerry, clarifying that TrueBlend does not violate the Maguire patents. Maguire then asked the judge to declare that Conair did infringe. McVerry dismissed the case after both sides signed the consent judgment.
In the past, Maguire has filed patent lawsuits over blenders against other firms. Given that history, Conair officials have said they felt ``a lawsuit was inevitable'' over the TrueBlend.
The headline on Conair's news release announcing the consent judgment reads: ``Maguire abandons blender-patent challenge.'' But B. Patrick Smith, Maguire's vice president of marketing and sales, said it's not so dramatic.
``The bottom line is, we suspected infringement and we sent them a friendly letter notifying them of that. And after inspecting the blender, we determined that there was no infringement,'' Smith said.
TrueBlend replaced Conair's AutoWeigh blender, which Maguire had produced under a private-label agreement. Though Conair no longer makes the AutoWeigh, Maguire will continue to supply parts for existing blenders, said Ben Martin, Conair sales and marketing director.