[Ip-health] The Balboa Newport Hot Tub patent case

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Thu Sep 2 08:51:14 PDT 2010

While not about health-ip, this case is interesting in that the basis of
the antitrust complaint is the allegation that Balboa's litigation of
alleged patent infringement cases is itself a violation of U.S.
competition laws. Jamie

ABA Antitrust Section Intellectual Property E-Bulletin
Issue 55, August 2010

Complaint, Newport Controls, LLC v. Balboa Instruments, Inc., No.
2:10-cv-04846 (C.D. Cal. June 30, 2010).

On June 30, 2010, Newport Controls LLC (Newport) filed suit in the
United States District Court for the Central District of California,
against Balboa Instruments Inc. (Balboa) asserting federal and state
antitrust claims. The complaint alleges that Balboa, a manufacturer of
hot tub control systems, used its market dominance and threats of patent
litigation to monopolize the market for electronic control systems.

Newport’s complaint alleges that Balboa has instituted a series of
patent infringement lawsuits, as well as at least one trade secrets
claim against Newport itself, to keep other U.S.-based competitors out
of the hot tub electronic controls systems market. Further, Newport
claims, Balboa “used its litigious history to make hot tub manufacturers
fear being sued themselves if they purchase non-Balboa Electronic
Control Systems.”

As a result of Balboa’s actions, Newport alleges that a number of hot
tub makers were unwilling to participate in a launch program that
allowed hot tub manufacturers to test and evaluate its new Azure Series
electronic control system without being provided an indemnification
agreement protecting them from lawsuits by Balboa.

Newport claims that these and other anticompetitive acts by Balboa have
the effect of harming competition in the hot tub controls market, and is
seeking treble damages and a permanent injunction.

James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org | http://www.twitter.com/jamie_love
Wk: +1.202.332.2670 | US Mobile +1.202.361.3040 | Geneva Mobile +41.76.413.6584

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