Rash of new False Claims Act/Patent Marking Suits Bolstered by Opinion

A new kind of lawsuit being filed around the country claims that manufacturers who marked their products with expired patents is not only against the law, it is a violation of The False Claims Act and millions of falsely labeled products could results in penalties of trillions of dollars. Tuesday a Federal Circuit Court in the Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers Case resulted in a ruling which reiterated that any person may sue under the law even if they suffered no injury themselves. A qui tam provision operates as a statutory assignment of the United States’ rights, and the assignee of a claim has standing to assert the injury in fact suffered by the assignor,” the court said. The relator in that case, Mr. Stauffer, calls himself a “sharp-dressed man” and he is also a patent lawyer. He sued Brooks Brothers Inc. in federal court, claiming that it broke the law by marking its adjustable bow ties with patents that expired in the 1050’s. Since then, lawsuits claiming false patent markings have been brough against companies that make bubble gum, toys, fabric softener and more. Penalties of upto $500 per improperly marked product have been upheld by the courts. Patents have a life span of 17 to 20 years. To keep them valid, companies must pay maintenance fees every four years and once they expire the holder is expected to remove the numbers from products. Mr. Stauffer calculates the liability as being huge as Brooks Brothers has mistakenly marked 120 different styles of ties