Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Oxbo International Corp. v. H&S Manufacturing Co., Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 19, 2016

OXBO INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
H&S MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., Defendant. H&S MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., Counterclaim Plaintiff,
v.
OXBO INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION and KUHN NORTH AMERICA, INC., Counterclaim Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON District Judge

         Plaintiff Oxbo International Corporation initiated this patent suit against defendant H&S Manufacturing Company, Inc., alleging infringement of four of its patents.[1] H&S counterclaimed, alleging non-infringement and invalidity.

         On January 29, 2016, the court granted H&S leave to amend its answer and counterclaim, Dkt. 21, and several weeks later, the court granted a second motion to amend, Dkt. 27. H&S’s amended counterclaim added state law claims for tortious interference with prospective contract and common law unfair competition against Oxbo and a newly joined third party, Kuhn North America, Inc.

         Now Oxbo and Kuhn have moved to dismiss H&S’s tort counterclaims (amended counterclaims IX and X), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. 34. Kuhn has separately moved for Rule 11 sanctions against H&S, for making false, unfounded allegations in its amended counterclaim. Dkt. 67. The court will grant the motion to dismiss and deny the motion for sanctions.

         ALLEGATIONS OF FACT

         The court draws the following facts from the parties’ pleadings, Dkt. 1 and Dkt. 28, construing the allegations “in the light most favorable to [H&S], accepting as true all well-pleaded facts alleged, and drawing all possible inferences in [its] favor.” Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008).

         Oxbo designs, manufactures, and distributes agricultural equipment, including windrow mergers, which merge cut crops into rows for harvesting and baling. H&S manufactures, sells, and imports windrow mergers and other agricultural equipment, including its “Tri-Flex” triple head merger. Oxbo contends that two Tri-Flex merger models (TFM2130/3 and TFM2125/3) infringe its ’929 patent, ’739 patent, ’052 patent, and ’488 patent.

         Kuhn owns a fifth patent that is only indirectly at issue in this case, U.S. Patent No. 8, 402, 730, titled Multi-Axis Floating Merger Suspension. Pursuant to a 2014 cross licensing contract, Kuhn is an exclusive licensee to the Oxbo patents, and Oxbo is an exclusive licensee to the Kuhn patent. Under the cross license, Oxbo and Kuhn have agreed to notify one another whenever a third party infringes their respective patents, and they have agreed to discuss how to proceed and whether to pursue the third party jointly.

         In late 2014, H&S had its agent, BDO Capital Advisors, LLC (not a party to this case), look into whether anyone would be interested in purchasing H&S. Oxbo was among the companies that received information about the proposed sale; Bob Snape, president of BDO Capital Advisors, passed information along to Oxbo executive Gary Stich. Oxbo received a one-page document titled “Project Hay” and a mutual nondisclosure agreement. Although the documents did not explicitly indicate that the information was about H&S, the documents included a list of products that H&S manufactures, a description of the business, and operating statistics. H&S alleges that, “[o]n information and belief, given the extent of the disclosure in the H&S Sale Sheet, Oxbo was aware that the company for sale was H&S.” Dkt. 28, at 9. In spring 2015, Stich informed H&S’s president, Chris Heikenen, that he knew that H&S had been for sale for several months.

         In May 2015, Oxbo filed this suit against H&S, alleging infringement of the ’929 patent, ’739 patent, ’052 patent, and ’488 patent. Around that same time, Kuhn sent H&S letters accusing it of infringing the ’730 patent; Kuhn did not file suit.[2] H&S alleges that Oxbo and Kuhn agreed to jointly enforce their patents against H&S, despite the fact that they knew that H&S was engaged in negotiations to sell its business. H&S counterclaimed, alleging non-infringement, invalidity, and state law claims for tortious interference with prospective contract (i.e., the proposed sale of its business) and unfair competition.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to dismiss

         In count IX of H&S’s amended counterclaim, H&S alleges that Oxbo and Kuhn purposefully interfered with its prospective contractual relationship with a third-party purchaser, by asserting infringement claims in bad faith. In count X, H&S alleges that the interference constitutes unfair competition under Wisconsin law. Oxbo and Kuhn have moved to dismiss amended counterclaims IX and X because: (1) they are entitled to Noerr-Pennington immunity; or, in the alternative, (2) H&S has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

         1. The Noerr-Penn ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.