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Tristar Products Wins Significant Victory in Expandable Garden Hose Patent Dispute

Paul, Weiss recently achieved a major substantive win for Tristar Products, Inc. in a patent suit involving expandable and retractable garden hoses, in which Tristar is accused of infringing six patents purportedly invented by the principal of one of the plaintiffs, Michael Berardi.

Paul, Weiss was engaged in 2017 to lead this long-pending dispute (one of numerous related cases among the parties in the District of New Jersey). We quickly pressed for correction of inventorship on all six asserted patents—seeking to name Gary Ragner, a principal of Tristar’s licensor, as an inventor—and sought an evidentiary hearing before the court to decide the issue. Michael Berardi had never designed or built a garden hose before a meeting with Gary Ragner in August 2011. During that meeting, Ragner (who had several earlier patents) demonstrated and described details from his own years of hose-related work and inventions. A few hours after that meeting, Berardi headed to Home Depot to buy parts and begin tinkering with a hose design he would later claim as his own in a series of U.S. patents.

Following a bench trial on inventorship, including five days of testimony from nine witnesses, the court ruled that all six patents claimed as Berardi’s exclusive inventions and asserted against Tristar must be corrected by the Patent Office to add Gary Ragner as a named inventor. This effectively brings all of the plaintiffs’ infringement claims against our client to an end, and leaves only Tristar’s numerous affirmative claims against the plaintiffs and related companies—including multiple suits asserting they infringe Mr. Ragner’s earlier patents. Acknowledging their claims “cannot be sustained if Mr. Ragner is a co-inventor,” the plaintiffs have sought permission to bring an immediate appeal.

The Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partner Steve Baughman and counsel Megan Raymond.

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