OREM — More than a year after a federal judge doubled the damages owed to an Orem-based blending and mixing company in a patent rights infringement case, the $22 million judgment was upheld in an appeals court.
But now, with the added pre- and post-judgment interest, the money owed to Utah's K-TEC Inc. by Vita-Mix is $24.1 million, according to K-TEC attorney Mark Miller.
"It's the largest patent infringement judgment in the history of Utah courts, at least that I'm aware of," he said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the "district court properly entered summary judgment of literal infringement" in the case of K-TEC v. Vita-Mix. K-TEC is the company behind the Blendtec blenders that spawned the online ad campaign "Will it blend?," generating more than 300 million YouTube hits. In 2006, K-TEC filed suit against Vita-Mix for infringing on patented technologies such as Blendtec's five-sided blending jar.
Following a jury trial in June 2010, K-TEC was awarded $11 million. K-TEC then filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell to award enhanced damages, attorney fees and payment of other losses, such as post-verdict damages.
Campbell doubled the judgment to more than $22 million after finding evidence of "deliberate copying," proof that Vita-Mix infringed K-TEC's patents willfully and intentionally and that they tried to conceal their infringing activity.
Circuit Judges Pauline Newman, Sharon Prost and Alan Lourie heard the appeal and issued a ruling this month finding Vita-Mix's claims were "without merit" and that the trial was fair.
"Because the district court did not err in any respect and the jury's findings were properly supported, we affirm," Lourie wrote.
“This decision sends a strong message to those who would attempt to profit from the labor and ideas of someone else," Tom Dickson, Blendtec's founder, CEO and inventor of the jar at the center of the case, said in a prepared statement. "Truly it’s a win for America’s visionaries, innovators and entrepreneurs who build dreams, create jobs and positively impact the economy."
Miller said this case demonstrates that the U.S. patent system works and that little companies can tackle larger companies and win. He said it was "an honor" for him and his colleague, Brett Foster, to handle the case.
"Blendtec is a fantastic Utah company that Utahns can be proud of," Miller said. "They employ a lot of Utahns, they innovate and they make their own products."