Oral Argument In Key False Marking Case: Stauffer V. Brooks Brothers, Inc.

Jeanne Gills (partner at Foley & Lardner and Practice Center Contributor) and Mary M. Calkins (senior counsel at Foley & Lardner) passed along this news alert discussing the August 3rd oral argument heard by the Federal Circuit in the Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc. false marking litigation….

On August 3, 2010, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (C.J. Rader, J. Lourie, and J. Moore) heard oral argument in Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc., Nos. 09-1428 et al (Stauffer). Stauffer is the latest in a line of appeals from district court decisions in false marking suits brought under 35 U.S.C. § 292. The panel mostly focused on two standing issues: (1) the requirements for an individual plaintiff, who is not a competitor of the defendant allegedly committing false marking, to have standing to sue for damages under Section 292; and (2) whether the United States may intervene during the initial phase of a Section 292 action dealing with standing on the pleadings, rather than later during the merits phase of the action. Given the several hundred false marking cases that have been filed during the past year, including those that have been stayed pending a decision in Stauffer, the Federal Circuit’s ruling could impact whether these cases survive on jurisdictional grounds or will proceed on the merits.


Section 292 prohibits marking an “unpatented article” with words indicating that the article is patented “for the purpose of deceiving the public,” and establishes a monetary fine of up to $500 per falsely marked article. The statute further provides that “[a]ny person may sue for the penalty, in which event one-half shall go to the person suing and the other to the use of the United States.” (more…)

False Marking: A Patent Prosecutor’s Perspective

In a recent post titled, “False Marking: A Patent Litigator’s Perspective“, Brandon Baum, partner and IP litigator at Mayer Brown LLP, and I discussed the infamous issue of false marking and how he believes the proliferation of false marking suits are “a blip due to prior lax enforcement by patent departments, and will disappear quickly”.  Today, you’ll have a chance to read what Robert Faber, partner and patent prosecutor at Ostrolenk Faber LLP, has to say on the issue of false marking.

Without further ado, Robert Faber on False Marking….

Section 292 of the United States Patent Act (35 U.S.C. § 292) imposes a criminal penalty fine of up to $500 per false marking for falsely marking or advertising that a product is covered by an unexpired United States patent or an application for a patent, and the statute provides that whoever sues the false marking party for the penalty on behalf of the United States receives one half the penalty collected.

One reason for heightened interest in the statute is the recent Federal Circuit Court Opinion in Forest Group, Inc. V. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295 (Fed Cir. 2009) that the penalty shall be computed based on every individual falsely marked article sold, not on a group of such articles sold in a single transaction. The penalty shall not be more than $500 for the offense of selling each copy, giving a judge discretion as to the per unit amount of the penalty and therefore the amount to be shared by the plaintiff.