Friday (January 15th) was the deadline for Quickutz to file a response to the patent infringement suit filed against them by fellow die manufacturer Spellbinders. The company beat the deadline and filed a lengthy response in Federal court disputing most of the allegations made in the Spellbinders filing.
Quickutz’s 136 page filing included 124 pages of exhibits. The response is complex and aggressive, including both affirmative defenses and counter claims by Quickutz. Among the several counter claims is a challenge to the validity of the patent on which the lawsuit is based.
Key to the challenge are exhibits provided in the filing that appear to show that PMA Photometals of Arizona, Inc. sold dies covered under the patent to Quickutz before certain dates covered by the disputed patent. Also apparently held to be key by Quickutz is a statement included in the exhibits from J. Michael Dywan, president of PMA Photometals. Dywan’s statement is filed in support of several of Quickutz’s contentions that they say make the patent invalid. Despite the fact he is listed as a co-inventer on the contested patent, Dwyan does not own any interest in the patent – it is wholly owned by Spellbinders’ CEO Jeffrey James Caron.
Dywan is currently setting up a new business to compete with both Quickutz and Spellbinders selling dies similar to theirs. His company PMA Photometals, which has previously produced metal dies for both Quickutz and Spellbinders, has just formed a new division called Dies Direct that will be producing the dies and selling them. Dies Direct will be exhibiting at CHA-Winter in Anaheim.
Legal filings by both sides in the past several weeks make it seem unlikely that this case will be settled out of court like Quickutz’s last litigation was, meaning litigation could drag on for some time. Papers included in filings regarding Quickutz’s response deadline being extended last week hinted that the two companies were in negotiations over this issue for months before the lawsuit’s filing and were unable to reach a settlement.
The dispute has also gotten highly contentious since the court action started. In correspondence copies filed with the court as exhibits in the deadline extension request, Spellbinders’ attorney mentions alleged actions against his client that he says they are referring to criminal authorities. The response filing by Quickutz alleges that Spellbinders “improperly” requested that their financial services company freeze the assets of Quickutz’s that they held while Spellbinders waited for court rulings in the patent case. After this request was made, Quickutz alleges, the financial company cut off their line of operating credit.
Quickutz will not be exhibiting at CHA-Winter 2010. Spellbinders will be at the show, in booth #4069.