A lawsuit was filed by Lawler Mfg. against Bradley Corp. and a former Lawler employee for patent infringement on its 911 thermostatic mixing valve technology.
After Bradley failed to acquire Lawler in 1996, the company made plans to "misappropriate Lawler's 911 technology by hiring the inventor in each of the Lawler patents," and violated the confidentiality agreements between the two companies, according to court documents. It was also found that Bradley had no product that would meet the new ANSI standard, and it had no thermostatic mixing valves intended for emergency applications.
The lawsuit alleges that Bradley is not the rightful owner of any patent applications concerning the accused products or any of its technologies, designs or concepts. Bradley currently markets the accused products as its Navigator series of thermostatic mixing valves for emergency applications.
Though still in the discovery phase of litigation, possible remedies include Lawler seeking a permanent injunction against Bradley to restrain the company and its employees from using Lawler's trade secrets. It also requests an impounding or destroying of "all finished and unfinished inventory of the accused products," in accordance with U.S. laws governing unfair trade practices.
In response to the allegations, Bradley denies all claims to the Lawler action, and has asked the Indiana Federal Court to declare Lawler's patent for the valve invalid, saying that it was already patented by another manufacturer 50 years ago. Bradley is continuing its roll out of the Navigator line, and does not see the litigation causing any delays, according to the company. A trial is scheduled for June 2000.