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Wal-Mart, Bed Supplier Lose Patent Appeal

October 03, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and one of its air-mattress suppliers Monday were ordered by a federal appeals court to pay $5.9 million to Aero Products International Inc. for infringing a patent.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld a judgment against Wal-Mart and Intex Recreation Corp. of Long Beach. The three-judge panel threw out a Chicago jury's $1-million award for trademark infringement, saying it "represents an impermissible double recovery."

The jury awarded Aero, a unit of Bahrain-based Investcorp Bank, $2.95 million for patent infringement in February 2004. U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah doubled the award and granted attorneys' fees to Aero because of a jury finding that Intex deliberately copied the design of the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company's AeroBed, developed in 1992.

Like the AeroBed, the Comfort Rest Supreme Fast-Fill mattress made by Intex had a one-way valve that opens and closes automatically and allows for rapid inflation and deflation, Aero said. Wal-Mart sold both mattresses in its stores, with Intex's at a lower price.

Intex agreed to pay any damages owed by Wal-Mart. Intex no longer sells the infringing mattress, company lawyers said during the trial.

Wal-Mart shares fell 88 cents to $48.44.

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