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Ruling: RV supplier must face patent-infringement suit

July 25, 2017

A northern Indiana judge ruled that a recreational vehicle supplier’s patent-infringement suit against a competitor will move forward, in part because former employees of the plaintiff company are alleged to have encouraged infringement.

Lifetime Industries Inc. of Elkhart sued rival Trim-Lok Inc., alleging the company infringed on its patent on a seal system for slide-out rooms used on RVs. District Judge Jon E. DeGuilio on Monday denied Trim-Lok’s motion to dismiss the case.

DeGuilio allowed Lifetime to proceed with its complaint alleging direct and indirect infringement as well as contributory infringement. He noted in his order that Lifetime adequately alleged in its complaint that two Trim-Lok employees formerly worked for Lifetime and became familiar with the patent.

“Given their in-depth knowledge of the patent, it is plausible to infer that they would also know that the seal in question would infringe on that patent,” DeGuilio wrote. “… In addition, Lifetime’s allegations that Trim-Lok’s employees assisted with and provided instruction on the proper installation of the seal suffice to allege that it intended to induce the infringing conduct. Thus, Lifetime has sufficiently pled a claim for induced infringement.

The case in the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, is Lifetime Industries, Inc. v. Trim-Lok, Inc., 3:16-cv-559.

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