By Eric Schweibenz
On March 16, 2012, Emerson Electric Co. of St. Louis, Missouri (“Emerson”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that Anaheim Manufacturing Co. of Brea, California (“Anaheim”) unlawfully imports into the U.S., sells for importation, and/or sells within the U.S. after importation certain food waste disposers and components and packaging thereof that infringe Emerson’s trade dress rights and/or U.S. Patent No. D535,850 (the ‘850 patent).  The complaint also alleges that Anaheim has violated Emerson’s INSINKERATOR trademarks, including U.S. Reg. Trademark No. 2,518,010.  The complaint further alleges that Anaheim’s acts constitute unlawful passing off under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a) and (b).

According to the complaint, the ‘850 patent relates to a novel, ornamental design for a food waste disposer that is used in one or more of Emerson’s Evolution® series food waste disposers.

In the complaint, Emerson states that Anaheim imports and sells products that infringe the ‘850 patent, Emerson’s trade dress rights, and Emerson’s INSINKERATOR trademarks.  According to the complaint, Anaheim imports and sells infringing food waste disposers under private label, including KitchenEater, Barracuda™, Dayton®, and Plumber Friendly. 

Regarding domestic industry, Emerson states that its Evolution® series food waste disposers employ the design claimed in the ‘850 patent.  Emerson further states that both its Evolution® series and its Badger® series food waste disposers embody Emerson’s trade dress rights.  Moreover, Emerson states that sink mount assemblies designed to connect to these food waste disposers bear the INSINKERATOR trademarks.  As to the economic prong, Emerson refers to its large production facility in Racine, Wisconsin, where it develops, manufactures, and tests the Badger® and Evolution® series food waste disposers.  Emerson also states that it employs approximately 1000 individuals in the U.S.  Emerson further states that it has made a substantial investment in exploiting the ‘850 patent through engineering and research and development.

As to related litigation, Emerson states that, concurrently with the filing of the instant ITC complaint, it is also filing a complaint against Anaheim in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri seeking injunctive and monetary relief for design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition under the Lanham Act, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and other state law counts.

With respect to potential remedy, Emerson requests that the Commission issue a permanent limited and/or general exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders directed at Anaheim.