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November 24, 2010

Wreath co. sues rival for patent infringement

A Down East wreath company is suing its rival for the third time, now reviving a previous claim over the design of a miniature Christmas tree product.

Morrill Worcester, president of Harrington-based Worcester Wreath Co., filed the lawsuit against David Whitney, president and owner of Machias-based Whitney Wreath, alleging Whitney Wreath deliberately copied Worcester's tabletop Christmas tree design and decorations and infringed on a federal patent, according to the Bangor Daily News. The suit also claims unfair competition, trade infringement, deceptive trade practices and breach of contract, and seeks a permanent injunction against Whitney's manufacture and sale of the trees. No court date has been set.

It's the second time the companies have gone to court over the tabletop trees. In 2000, Whitney Wreath challenged Worcester's patents for decorative trees created and sold through L.L.Bean and other retailers, and in 2002 the patents were deemed valid. At that time, the two companies entered into a settlement agreement that allowed Whitney Wreath to distribute its own miniature tree that would be distinctly different from those sold by Worcester. But Worcester contends that when Whitney was awarded L.L.Bean's evergreen holiday item contract in 2009, it began selling a tabletop tree that "substantially copies significant elements" of Worcester's patented product, according to the paper.

Worcester also sued Whitney Wreath in 2009, arguing its new warehouse in Whitneyville blocked a right-of-way Worcester owned to an adjacent property and seeking an injunction to prevent Whitney Wreath from using the building. The injunction was dismissed and the companies settled.

Go to the article from the Bangor Daily News >>

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