In addition to the two lawsuits against Saris and Inno that SNEWS® reported on Nov. 19 (click here to read), Yakima Products filed two more lawsuits in the Oregon District Court, also on Nov. 13, alleging patent infringement against Hollywood Racks based in Los Angeles, Calif., and Rocky Mounts of Boulder, Colo.
As is the case with Saris and Inno, Yakima is alleging that Hollywood (www.hollywoodracks.com) is infringing on its 5,056,700, 6,431,423, 6,467,664, and 6,840,418 patents by manufacturing and selling bicycle carriers and assemblies including the Traveler and Road Runner (both hitch-mounted racks), and the Baja and F6 Expedition (both trunk-mounted racks). The patents at issue for Rocky Mounts are U.S. Patents 6,494,351 and 6,851,590. Yakima alleges in court documents that Rocky (www.rockymounts.com) is infringing on the patents by manufacturing and selling bicycle carriers and assemblies including the Rocky Mounts disc adapter (www.rockymounts.com/discadapter).
Yakima is seeking compensation for lost profits, royalties for use of patents, attorney fees, and an injunction preventing further infringement from both Hollywood and Rocky.
SNEWS® View: With the addition of two more lawsuits, and it remains to be seen if there will be any subsequent ones, it appears Yakima is conducting a methodical review of a number of its patents as it conducts an internal assessment of its intellectual property. As a result of this review, it appears Yakima has found cause to go after four companies over six patents. Why you might ask? From a legal perspective, that's easy. A patent has no value unless the patent holder is willing to defend it -- no different than a trademark. From an investment standpoint, Yakima's parent company, Arcapita, hung onto Yakima after divesting itself of Watermark (click here to read our SNEWS story) in 2005. Yakima was acquired in 2001 and is now one of Arcapita's older companies in the portfolio. Considering five years is about the limit for hanging onto an investment in a typical case, one has to believe Yakima is now also seeking to ensure it is worth as much as possible to future buyers -- and keeping patents valuable is one way to do just that.
Naturally, Yakima's legal team is probably very happy at the billable hours. And the lawyers for the defendants will also be thrilled with the new work coming their way. We're not sure the defendants are very happy, however, and would expect statements to be issued if any or all find the Yakima allegations to be without merit.