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January 1999 Vol. 14, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A $177,000 Mask Strap

from the January, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A federal judge has awarded Innovative Scuba Concepts $177,000 in a patent infringement lawsuit involving an adjustable strap for diving masks. The lawsuit ended in a default judgment against Hsin Yang International, a Claremont, CA, company doing business as Netex Products.

Innovative Scuba accused Netex of selling a strap for diving masks that was identical to Innovative’s Velcro diving headband, which is protected by an 8-year-old patent. The Rocky Mountain News said that the court ruled that Netex President Simon Yang lied in depositions when he denied that his company had marketed thousands of the unauthorized knock-off products in 1997. An April, 1997, Netex product catalog that listed a face mask strap with adjustable Velcro ribbons was introduced as evidence in the suit.

Although the judge estimated the unauthorized sales had cost Innovative Scuba lost profits of $53,000, he boosted the award to $176,700 after finding Netex had acted with “willful patent infringement.”

Jon C. Polkow, Innovative Scuba’s president, said that four years ago the company won a $250,000 judgment against Fedder Industries, a Florida business that promptly filed for bankruptcy. Polkow said he was never able to collect on the award. He told Undercurrent that he has not yet received any payment from Netex, but “we are using California lawyers to pursue collection. I don’t expect to collect anything. This was something that we had to do to show the industry that we will defend our patents.”

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