Plasdeck says it has received notice from the U.S. Patent Office that the U.S. patent held by Derek Whitaker and used by the Norwegian company Flexiteek International AS, has been rejected.
"Upon re-examination of this patent, the U.S. Patent Office has rejected patent No. 6,895,881 (the "'881 Patent") with the conclusion that the patent does not provide sufficient parameters to demonstrate any uniqueness or originality of their product," Plasdeck said in a statement.
The patent was rejected on two counts. The first states that the patent was anticipated by an earlier pre-existing patent and therefore the '881 Patent is not unique. The second states that the rejection of Flexiteek's patent is obvious in view of three other patents for products considered to be "prior art" because they were released before the '881 Patent. Each patent contains elements of the Whitaker's patent.
"It's been a real battle of David versus Goliath," said Bill Gribble, president of Plasdeck, in a statement. "From the first days of its development, we have created Plasdeck to be the next generation of synthetic decking, to be completely different from anything else on the market, and to perform better than the first generation products.
"We did not infringe and we believe that the latest ruling against Flexiteek represents a clear victory for our company, for our customers and installers, and for the continuation of free and competitive markets in the marine industry in the U.S. and internationally," he added.
Flexiteek officials, however, dispute Plasdeck's statements.
"Flexiteek is the owner of the original patent since the year 2000, although Bill Gribble of Plasdeck is trying to manipulate the facts by premature and inaccurate information. The fact that he is trying to revoke our patent is a far cry from succeeding in such a process," said Svein E. Abrahamsen, president and CEO of Flexiteek International AS, in an e-mail to Soundings Trade Only.
"We have several issues pending in the U.S. right now and will shortly, when these have been clarified, issue a press release with the facts," Abrahamsen added. "In the meantime, we have to live with random and unreliable information from infringing competitors."