Flexiteek says patent remains in effect

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Flexiteek officials say that although a recent injunction against Plasdeck's synthetic teak decking material was lifted by a U.S. District Court judge, the trial court has taken no action to overturn the judgment that Flexiteek obtained against Plasdeck and Plasteak.

"It did terminate the permanent injunction that was previously entered because it was based on the original claim of the 881 Patent, and ruled that the [United States Patent and Trademark Office] should govern the status of the patent going forward," Svein Abrahamsen, of Flexiteek International AS, said in an e-mail to Soundings Trade Only.

Last week, Plasdeck said it had received notice that a U.S. District Court judge in southern Florida terminated the injunction.

The U.S. Patent Office rejected the Whitaker patent that Flexiteek used on two counts. The first count says the patent was anticipated by an earlier patent and the second says it is obvious in view of three other patents, Plasdeck reports.

"We would like to publicly extend our gratitude to our customers and installers for their support and patience over the past year as we have been working to resolve these issues," Bill Gribble, president of Plasdeck, said in a statement last week. "We haven't lost a single OEM customer and the list of boat manufacturers that use our products continues to grow. It's been a real battle of David and Goliath, but the public's support for our company has helped us through these trying times."

In June 2009, Flexiteek obtained a jury verdict and final judgment against Plasdeck and Plasteak that established that products of both companies infringed upon U.S. Patent No. 6,895,881 (the 881 Patent). The final judgment ruled that Flexiteek was the owner of the 881 Patent and that the 881 Patent was valid and enforceable.

Flexiteek then obtained the permanent injunction against Plasdeck and Plasteak that recently was terminated.

"The re-examination process has been ongoing with the [patent office] for over a year. During that process, the examiner has indicated that he will allow at least 28 new claims for the 881 Patent," Abrahamsen told Soundings Trade Only.

"However, the examiner has also indicated that he does not believe the original claim of the 881 Patent was novel because of the way that it was written. The new claims overcome that language problem," he added. "The opinion of the examiner is not a final order at the current time and, as such, the 881 Patent is still in full force and effect despite the recent press releases by Plasdeck."

Flexiteek has appealed the examiner's opinion to the Patent and Trademark Office Board of Appeals.

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