Federal Circuit Upholds “Will It Blend?” Blender Maker’s $24M Patent Infringement Award

By Joseph Mandour on September 11, 2012

willitblend2 Los Angeles — The Federal Circuit on Thursday affirmed that K-Tec Inc., maker of the Blendtec line of blenders made famous by the company’s popular “Will It Blend?” Youtube promotional videos, is entitled to a $24 million patent infringement judgment in its favor against rival blender maker Vita-Mix Corp.

Vita-Mix appealed the Utah district court’s conclusions that it infringed the asserted claims of two K-Tec patents, that two prior art references were not analogous art for the purposes of an obviousness analysis, and that substantial evidence supported the jury’s findings that the asserted claims were not proved invalid. Vita-Mix also appealed findings that Vita-Mix’s infringement was willful, and that K-Tec was entitled to approximately $11 million in reasonable royalty and lost profits damages. The district judge later handed down enhanced damages that increased the award to roughly $24 million.

“The district court did not err in any respect and the jury’s findings were properly supported,” the Federal Circuit ruled.

K-Tec owns U.S. Patents 6,979,117 and 7,281,842, which generally disclose and claim a blending system that contains a blending jar with a specific geometry. The benefit of the claimed geometry is that it alters the flow pattern of the liquid during blending in a way that reduces cavitation, which occurs when a pocket of air envelops the area surrounding the blender blade during blending.

In 2001, K-Tec began selling a five-sided blending jar that was an embodiment of the ’117 and ’842 patents’ claims. After K-Tec acquired a number of customers in 2001 and 2002, Vita-Mix began to con- sider upgrading its existing four-sided container.

In that process, its “example” design was K-Tec’s five-sided container, the appeals court said. Although Vita-Mix attempted different design changes, it introduced its new container in May 2003, a design that Vita-Mix personnel admitted was a copy of K-Tec’s five-sided container.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement