The question of whether competitor products infringe on the patent granted to My Sweet Petunia for its MISTI stamp platform has become a legal battle with the company’s filing of a patent infringement suit against Tonic Studios on April 3rd.
My Sweet Petunia was granted their patent on the MISTI tool on March 21st, after a more than two year application process that saw the patent request initially rejected but then subsequently granted after being revised and reconsidered.
The MISTI was an almost immediate hit when it was launched in 2015. In the interim period between the MISTI going on the market and being granted its patent, several similar looking products entered what appeared at the time to be a new tool market segment. The We R Memory Keepers Stamp Press launched in 2016, and late 2016 saw the announcement of the Hampton Art Stamp Perfect. Then January 2017 brought the announcement of the Tonic Studios Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, intended to be launched in late spring of this year.
Although popular, the MISTI’s premium price point left room for competitors, and the We R and Hampton Art tools quickly gained market share after their launches as more affordable options. The announcement of the Tonic Studios tool was also well received by consumers and the tool’s launch in stores was eagerly anticipated.
After My Sweet Petunia learned they would in fact be granted the MISTI patent, the We R Memory Keepers and Hampton Art tools rapidly disappeared from retail outlets. In a blog entry announcing the issuing of the patent to MISTI fans, My Sweet Petunia owner Iliana Myska wrote of the situation that “I was thankful that two companies accepted my design as unique and graciously withdrew copies from the market.”
This left only the question of whether Tonic Studios’ much-anticipated Tim Holtz Stamping Platform would launch as scheduled or not.
According to court filings made by My Sweet Petunia, Tonic Studios was notified of the impending patent issuance for the MISTI on March 13th. Around the end of the that month, bloggers began to post on social media about receiving shipments of the Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, and post videos and reviews. On April 3rd, My Sweet Petunia filed suit against Tonic Studios for patent infringement in Federal Court in Delaware (where Tonic Studios USA is incorporated). The suit cites the activities of bloggers it names who posted about the Tonic tool (among other activities) as proof of patent infringing activity by Tonic.
On April 12th, shortly after receiving the suit, Tonic Studios issued a statement to its wholesale customers. The statement said that the Stamping Platform product was being delayed due to the MISTI patent being issued and the product being “redesigned” because “we do not want to expose our customers to any legal action from MSP” despite Tonic not considering their product to be infringing. The company said a new product, designated by a new product number as model 1707e, would ship within 6-8 weeks.
Patent litigation frequently is lengthy, and the initial stages of the suit between My Sweet Petunia and Tonic has already generated a lot of motions. My Sweet Petunia has amended its initial complaint once in response to a Tonic response motion, and Tonic has filed a motion requesting a change of venue to the court district near their California headquarters (a move opposed by My Sweet Petunia in its recent response). My Sweet Petunia is requesting a jury trial, a 3x multiplication of awarded damages for what it alleges is willful infringement, and attorney’s fees and expenses.