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Thomas Russell

Hardware supplier, La-Z-Boy, settle patent infringement suit

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Furniture hardware resource Belwith Products LLC, and its divisions Keeler Hardware and Hickory Hardware, have settled a patent infringement suit with La-Z-Boy wood subsidiaries Hammary, Kincaid and American Drew.

Belwith filed the suit against the wood companies last September. The suit alleged that they were violating its intellectual property rights by selling products with hardware similar or identical to hardware covered under Belwith's patents and copyrights.

The companies once did business with Belwith, but later began to obtain effectively identical hardware from sources other than Belwith, the suit said.

A statement issued by Belwith said the hardware used by these companies was found to infringe on one or more of the Belwith/Keeler patents or copyrights.

Citing confidentiality the parties agreed to as part of the settlement, Belwith co-owner and general manager Tom Guido declined to comment further. La-Z-Boy officials also declined to comment on the settlement.

The original suit sought an unnamed amount of damages to compensate for the infringement of the various patents. It also sought to permanently enjoin the wood companies from infringing on the patents and copyrights.

In a statement, Belwith products said that it owns and continues to develop "substantial intellectual property rights in all of its existing product offerings, as well as in new products."

"These rights have been created and protected at great expense to Belwith and its predecessors in interest," the company said. "Belwith considers its intellectual property to be a significant corporate asset, and Belwith wants to ensure that others respect its intellectual property rights. Belwith intends to protect its intellectual property to the full extent permitted by law, and continues to monitor the marketplaces in pursuance of that protection."

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