September 11, 2009 -- According to reporting by Brendan Pierson in Law360 (New York), a specialized news source for business lawyers, audio-visual system maker Lastar Inc. has sued rival Belkin International Inc. for allegedly infringing a patent that covers Lastar's RapidRun audio-visual cabling system, after hiring a former Lastar employee who worked on the system.
In its complaint, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Lastar alleges that Belkin's AV360 product infringes U.S. Patent Number 7,563,131, titled "Integrated wall plate assembly and premise wiring system incorporating the same."
The '131 patent, which was issued in July, describes "a wall plate assembly with one or more electronic signal interfaces on the face plate and a rearwardly cantilevered cable terminated by a quick-connect connector," according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, Lastar's RapidRun, which was introduced in 2005 (and is distributed in the U.S. by subsidiary company Cables To Go), has been one of its leading sources of revenue and has been widely imitated by other electronics makers.
In 2007, Belkin hired Sidney Wen, a former Lastar employee who worked on the technology used in RapidRun, and began working to develop its own competing product, Lastar said. Belkin introduced the AV360 product in June.
Belkin should have known that AV360 would likely infringe a Lastar patent, since RapidRun products were marked "patent pending" when they were first produced, and have been marked with the '131 patent since it was issued, Lastar said. Lastar is asking for a judgment that Belkin's infringement is willful and an award of treble damages and attorneys' fees.
"Belkin's continued infringement has caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to Lastar if that infringement is not enjoined from further infringement during the pendency of this litigation and permanently," Lastar said.
A representative of Belkin could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday, reported Law360's Pierson.