Bad Tactics: Staples’ Stapler

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by Aaron Thalwitzer

Ah, the noble stapler, an object of affection, an object of frustration, and now, an object of infringement.

A lawsuit filed in 2007 against office supply mogul Staples accused Staples of infringing on three of Accentra’s PaperPro patents. A federal jury in California agreed with Accentra last December.

“We created the best staplers in the world, only to have Staples intentionally try to steal our technology,” PaperPro CEO Todd Moses said.

The Red Stapler of Yore.

The stapler in question.

Apparently, Staples met with Accentra in September 2003. Back then, Accentra was shooting for a distribution deal with Staples and offered them a sample of its “One-Touch” spring-powered stapler. The two reached an agreement in 2004.

When Staples showed Accentra it’s own “internally developed” stapler technology, Accentra said that Staples’ product raised patent infringement issues. According to the suit, a Staples official even told Accentra executives: “We have tried to work around your patents and have failed.” Nice.

Critics raved and raved over Staples’ (infringing) spring-loaded stapler, while Staples basked in the  stapley glow of its game-changing stapler.

In a line sure to imitated in cease-and-desist letters for ages, Accentra’s suit stated, “While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, imitation by way of patent infringement is theft.”

This victory could force retailers across the country to remove infringing staplers from retailers’ shelves and compensate Accentra for each one sold.

Since the jury determined that the Staples’ infringement was willful, there is a possibility of treble damages and injunctive relief, and possibly legal fees as well.  Federal District Judge Audrey Collins will probably rule on damages (the jury awarded a total of $2.2 million, which the judge could change) in the first quarter of 2011.

Comments

Posted On
Jan 13, 2011
Posted By
Patrick

Aaron,

I’m sorry to do this, but that is my stapler in your post. Please give it back.

You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.

Posted On
Jan 13, 2011
Posted By
Aaron Thalwitzer

Riiiiiiiiiiight.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dotpeople, Mark Malek. Mark Malek said: The #patent case that is the "staple" of any good practice: http://bit.ly/fuzSaJ – Staples loses patent #infringement case over stapler! [...]

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