Procter & Gamble has filed suit against a local maker of oral care products, alleging patent infringement.
Cincinnati-based P&G, which makes consumer products, filed the lawsuit Monday against Grand Rapids-based Ranir, which makes store brand and branded oral care products, in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio.
The lawsuit alleges Ranir’s private label tooth-whitening strips infringe on existing P&G patents related to the company’s Crest Whitestripes product. The patents in question are set to expire on June 6.
P&G is seeking injunctive and monetary relief, according to documents filed with the court.
Both Ranir and P&G declined to comment on the lawsuit.
P&G says the accused products are for sale under various brands: Walmart Equate Deluxe Whitening Strips; Walmart Equate Ultra Whitening Strips; Kroger Deluxe Whitening Strips; Kroger Premium Whitening Strips; and Kroger Ultra Whitening Strips.
P&G alleges Ranir was aware of the patent infringement, making the company’s actions “egregious and willful,” according to court documents.
P&G says in 2012, Ranir introduced private label tooth-whitening strip products that “infringed on the patents” involved in the current lawsuit, and the company voluntarily agreed to stop making and selling the “infringing tooth-whitening strip products” and removed those products from the market.
In 2016, Ranir acquired Brushpoint, a company that was the target of a patent infringement lawsuit filed by P&G in 2014, also related to P&G’s tooth-whitening products.
P&G and Brushpoint entered into a confidential settlement agreement, and in 2016, when Ranir acquired Brushpoint, Brushpoint obtained consent from P&G to disclose the settlement agreement to Ranir.
P&G alleges Ranir knew the patents did not expire until June 6 of this year, but it went to market with its tooth-whitening products early.
“With full knowledge that the patents-in-suit do not expire until June 6, 2017, Ranir manufactured the accused products, offered the accused products for assignment of shelf space in the 2017-2018 period and did, in fact, begin selling the accused products to Walmart, Kroger and possibly other retailers to avoid having to wait until the next year’s re-assignment of shelf space,” P&G says.
P&G says as a result, it’s lost market share and suffered other “intangible harms.”
P&G reports its Crest Whitestrips products are responsible for annual sales in excess of $250 million.
“Ranir has received an unfair advantage in the marketplace by offering for sale and selling the accused products before the expiration of the patents-in-suit,” P&G says.
The company calls Ranir’s actions “willful, wanton, malicious” and a “flagrant act of piracy.”