Sperian Sues Draeger, Claiming Patent Infringement

Sperian Respiratory Protection is accusing Draeger Safety, Inc., of patent infringement with Draeger’s PSS7000 self-contained breathing apparatus.

Meanwhile a huge SCBA contract in Southern California that was awarded to Sperian, but voided by a judge is going back out to bid.

In the patent infringement lawsuit filed by Sperian in U.S. District Court in California, the company said Draeger’s SCBA has a personal alert safety system (PASS) and a remote PASS that are “covered by one or more claims” of U.S. patent number 6,091,331, which was obtained July 18, 2000 by Bacou USA Safety, which changed its name to Sperian in 2007.

Draeger responded by denying that its SCBA is covered by any aspect of the patent and filed a counterclaim that the patent is invalid and unenforceable, in part because “the claimed subject matter in the ‘331 patent was not new.”

In a press release, Draeger said it has a strong respect for intellectual property rights, but believes the lawsuit is “meritless.”

Sperian’s lawsuit seeks an accounting of all profits derived by Draeger from the claimed patent infringement and triple damages.

In the months leading up to the filing of Sperian’s lawsuit in September, two major SCBA contracts were awarded to the two companies.

Draeger, which is in Pittsburgh, was selected to supply at least 800 units to the Phoenix Fire Department worth more than $4 million.

Sperian, located in Santa Ana, Calif., was awarded a contract to provide about 4,000 units to a consortium of 32 Southern California fire departments, an order valued at more than $20 million. But that contract was nullified in October after it was challenged in state court by Allstar Fire Equipment, a distributor for Scott Health & Safety, and by Mine Safety Appliances (MSA).

The judge in the Southern California case ruled the selection process was flawed because purchasing officials did not follow their own rules and because SCBA performance evaluations by firefighters were discounted by members of a purchasing oversight committee.

A new request for bids was expected to be issued this month.

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