Z-Man announced today that a federal judge has sided with the company in its patent infringement suit against Joseph F. Renosky and Renosky Lure, Inc. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel, in an order dated June 15, ruled Z-Man’s patent for its ChatterBait bladed swim-jig is valid and that Z-Man was entitled to partial summary judgment against Renosky.
"We are extremely pleased with the judge’s ruling in this case,” said Z-Man president Jonathan Zucker. “We have gone to great lengths to protect the innovations behind our ChatterBait brand lures, including obtaining two patents. Watching a competitor blatantly copy our patented lure design has been frustrating, and our hope is that the court’s ruling in this case will help deter further copycats.”
Z-Man sued Renosky on Feb. 22, 2011, alleging claims of patent infringement, trade dress infringement, interference with prospective advantage, unfair competition, breach of contract, and conversion. Subsequently, Z-Man moved for summary judgment on patent infringement and validity.
In essence, the court rejected Renosky’s invalidity arguments and found that Renosky unlawfully infringed Z-Man's patent because Renosky’s knock-off lures could not be distinguished, from a patent perspective, from Z-Man’s baits. Renosky lost on its argument that the eyelet on the Renosky lure was not “fixed within” the jighead as required by the patent.
The court ruled that “fixed within” does not mean “immovable,” but instead assigned a broader definition of “to make firm, stable, or stationary in or into the interior.” This broad definition helps create a high barrier for those who may attempt a patent “work around” to produce a copycat product.
With this outcome, Z-Man further solidifies the protections offered by its patents and clarifies that the patent covers bladed jigs with eyelets that are both immovable and movable.