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Yakima Sues Four Rack Companies

Published November 20, 2008

BEAVERTON, OR (BRAIN)—Yakima filed lawsuits against four of its competitors last week, alleging infringement of six of Yakima’s rear hitch, trunk and roof rack patents.

Yakima Products, Inc. is suing Saris Cycling Group, Hollywood Engineering, Inc., owner of Hollywood Racks, and Car Mate USA, owner of Inno Racks, for allegedly violating four patents that cover Yakima’s trunk hitch and rear mount rack systems.

Another suit alleges Rocky Mounts violated Yakima’s patent for its roof mount rack system and for the clamping mechanism on the roof bike tray.

Neil Nusbaum, owner of Hollywood Engineering, Inc. was surprised to hear of the lawsuit on Thursday morning, having not yet been served with civil papers.

“The only thing I’d say is if in fact I am served, it’s unfortunate that things can’t be settled out of court—in conversations out of court,” Nusbaum said.

Bobby Noyes, owner of Rocky Mounts, declined to comment on the litigation, and representatives from the other two defendants did not return phone calls on Thursday.

According to documents filed in Oregon District Court, Yakima alleges all four companies are “making, using, offering for sale and selling, inducing others to make, use, offer for sale and sell, bicycle carriers and assemblies” that infringe patents, including the T-Rax and Guardian 2 and 3, without authorization from Yakima.

The violations have caused damages exceeding $75,000 per case, according to court documents.

Yakima is asking the judge for a decree that the defendants have infringed Yakima’s patents; a permanent injunction barring further use of the patents; and compensation and royalties for the losses in profit due to the unauthorized use of Yakima’s inventions.

None of the defendants have been involved in patent disputes with Yakima in the past—at least none that made it to the court system—however, Thule sued Yakima twice in the late 1990s for patent infringement. Yakima sued Thule in 2000 for the same reason, but dismissed the lawsuit two months after it was filed.

Neither Yakima nor its attorney responded to requests for further comment on the suit.

—Nicole Formosa

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