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Zuber Lawler & Del Duca

Strategic Legal Solutions for Visionary Clients


Hertz Furniture Systems LLC and Academia Furniture LLC Win Patent Infringement Summary Judgment

March 25, 2014

Zuber Lawler & Del Duca clients, national furniture manufacturer/suppliers Hertz Furniture Systems and Academia Furniture, settled patent and trade dress infringement claims asserted against them by Virco Mfg. Corp., a manufacturer and supplier of furniture and equipment for K-12 schools. The settlement was provoked by a January 3, 2014 order by the United States District Court for the Central District of California granting Hertz and Academia’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the key patent brought against them by Virco. That decision effectively eliminated all claims of patent infringement.

“We are pleased by the Court’s decision and the settlement,” said Partner Mark Bloomberg, who led the firm’s representation of Hertz and Academia, “and we’re thrilled to have assisted our clients in moving beyond this litigation so they can focus their energy on continuing with their success in the market.”

Virco claimed Hertz and Academia infringed two design patents. One patent was asserted against substantial sales of their Illustration line of desk and table products. The other patent expired shortly after our clients introduced their Elevate line of products, and was not significant because it related to minimal sales.

After issuing a tentative ruling denying the clients’ motion at the start of the summary judgment hearing, Bloomberg convinced the Court to change its decision and find that the Illustration products created “a substantially different overall visual impression” from the design patent asserted against them. The Court held that no jury could find that Illustration products infringed, and granted summary judgment of non-infringement. As a result of that decision, no meaningful claim for patent infringement remained, and the value of the case against Hertz and Academia substantially diminished. The entire case, which also included claims of trade dress infringement, settled thereafter.

Bloomberg is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, and earned an S.M. and S.B. degrees in mechanical engineering from M.I.T. Prior to joining Zuber Lawler & Del Duca, Bloomberg was a partner at Ropes & Gray.