Molten loses patent-infringement lawsuit

A Washington State sporting goods manufacturer said last week it won an $8.1 million patent-infringement judgment against Reno's Molten USA.

Baden Sports Inc. of Federal Way, Wash., was awarded the damages by a jury in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington.

Executives of Molten didn't respond to a phone message seeking comment about the decision.

Baden contended that Molten infringed on its patent for a basketball technology that consists of tiny air cells that separate the inner and outer layers of a basketball.

The jury found that Molten willfully infringed Baden's patent when it brought out a line it dubbed "dual-cushion" basketballs.

And jurors said that Molten's advertising was intentionally false when it said that its basketball was "innovative."

Along with the monetary damages, the court issued an injunction that bars Molten from selling or advertising its dual-cushion product in the Untied States.

Michael Schindler, chief executive officer of Baden, called the legal process "long and costly for a company our size."

Baden also has filed suit in federal court in Las Vegas against the Federation International de Basketball and USA Basketball. It contends that both organizations used the Molten basketballs even though they knew of Baden's contention that the ball infringed on its patent.

Molten was the official basketball of the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas in late August and early September. Molten is a sponsor of USA Basketball, and its product is the official basketball of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Molten USA is a unit of Molten Corp. of Hiroshima, Japan. The company's American unit has been based in Reno since 1988.

Among the largest makers of athletic balls in the world, Molten sells products ranging from volleyballs to soccer balls along with its line of basketballs.


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