Metal expandable and retractable steps used on recreational vehicles are the subject of patent infringement lawsuits filed against two Elkhart County, Ind., companies, the Elkhart Truth reports.
Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co., headquartered in North Carolina, has filed complaints in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend, contending that Lippert Components Inc., of Goshen, and Flexco Products Inc., of Elkhart, have been selling steps that infringe on the company’s U.S. Patent No. 6,082,751, referred to as the “751 Patent.”
In the two separate complaints filed with the court, Hickory Springs says in part the alleged infringement has caused the company to suffer and “will continue to suffer irreparable injury and damage to its business and loss of sales, customers and profits”
Both complaints also ask the court to stop the Indiana companies from making the products that allegedly infringe on the patent, recall the products from distributors, wholesalers and retailers as well as award Hickory Springs actual damages and any profits realized as a result of the alleged infringement.
In the suit against Lippert, Hickory Springs maintains that the Lippert Triple Step, developed by Lippert, infringes upon the patent. In the suit against Flexco, Hickory Springs maintains that the Flexco 24-inch Double Step, developed by Flexco, infringes upon the same patent.
In its answer filed in court, Flexco denied the charge of infringement. Within the document, the company “admitted that Flexco Products has developed at least one extendable and retractable RV step structure having two steps … (but) denied that this product is covered by one or more valid claims of the “751 Patent.”
Furthermore, in a counterclaim, Flexco requested the court to dismiss the complaint, declare that the patent has not been infringed upon by Flexco and declare that the patent is invalid and unenforceable.
Lippert’s law firm declined comment, but did say the company would “actively defend” against the lawsuit.