In a lawsuit that charges Octane Fitness with patent infringement, Icon Health & Fitness has included one retailer -- four-store Southern California retailer Nellie's -- in the case that names patent violations on one elliptical.
So far, the suit only generally names two of Icon's patents as violated. When asked which Octane features allegedly infringe on the Icon patents, Icon attorney Larry Laycock told SNEWS® only that the company has asserted two patents and "one is directed generally to electronic features and the other generally to mechanical features." The elliptical named is the Q47, which was introduced in mid-2007.
Although Icon is based in the Utah District Court based in Salt Lake City, the suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, in Southern California.
About the venue deviation, Laycock said, "We learned in connection with our investigation that actual acts of infringement were occurring in California. This is not to say that infringement is not occurring in Utah or anywhere else."
Octane Fitness sells to nearly 100 separate retailers across the United States with 10 in California.
"We're all baffled why they want to sue us in California," said Octane vice president and co-founder Tim Porth. "And why would they choose Nellie's we don't know.
The lawsuit states that Nellie's "sold those goods to the consuming public." Nellie's owner David Delgadillo told SNEWS that the case was "absurd" and that he was "very surprised" when he was served.
Laycock noted in his email answers to SNEWS that Nellie's was included in the case because it sold "infringing products," adding, "If and when we learn of other similar acts of infringement, we will take the appropriate measures to address them at that time."
Although the suit was filed in late April, the complaint itself was not served on Octane until the middle of July. Laycock explained that the company filed its paperwork as a signal of the commencement of the case. Then the company contacted Octane, he explained, "to invite the opening of a dialogue through which a reasonable business resolution of the matter might be reached."
"When that avenue proved unfruitful," Laycock said, "we served the complaint."
On Aug. 4, Octane and Nellie's filed their answers to the complaint in which Icon asked for a jury trial, injunctive and monetary relief and damages. In Octane's and Nellie's answers to the court, the companies filed a counterclaim against Icon asking the patents be declared invalid and that the court declare Octane has not infringed.
"We strongly believe we're innocent," Porth said, "and we strongly believe we are not infringing."