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Brite-Strike Technologies, Inc. v. E. Mishan & Sons, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 24, 2017

Brite-Strike Technologies, Inc. and Telebrands Corp. Plaintiffs,
v.
E. Mishan & Sons, Inc. Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Brite-Strike Technologies, Inc. and Telebrands Corp. allege defendant E. Mishan & Sons, Inc. (“Emson”) infringed one of its patents relating to a compact flashlight and a method for operation of such a flashlight.

         Defendants responded with several counterclaims against plaintiffs and a motion to stay the case pending an ex parte reexamination of the subject patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). For the following reasons, defendant's motion to stay will be denied.

         I. Background

         Brite-Strike Technologies, Inc. produces so-called tactical flashlights, which are used as sources of bright light and as tools for self-defense, for sale to consumers, law enforcement and the military. It is the assignee of United States Patent No. 7, 866, 841 (“'841 patent”), which was issued in January, 2011. Telebrands, Inc., a marketing company, owns exclusive rights to the '841 patent under a license agreement with Brite-Strike. Emson is a competitor of Brite-Strike that also produces tactical flashlights.

         The '841 patent, entitled “Compact Flashlight, ” is directed toward a small flashlight which is controlled by a user-operated switch. Brite-Strike utilized the patented technology to manufacture a tactical flashlight, the mode of which can be changed by the touch of a finger, purportedly unlike other flashlights which require two hands to operate.

         In August, 2016, plaintiffs filed this patent infringement action. Defendant has denied the substantive claims and asserted several affirmative defenses and counterclaims. It has also sought, ex parte, and recently received leave of the USPTO for, the reexamination of the '841 patent. It now seeks to stay this action pending that reexamination.

         II. Defendants' Motion to Stay

         A. Legal Standard

It is well established that
[c]ourts have inherent power to manage their dockets and stay proceedings including the authority to order a stay pending conclusion of a PTO reexamination.

Ethicon, Inc. v. Quigg, 849 F.2d 1422, 1426-27 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (citation omitted). While courts have the power to grant a stay if there is a pending reexamination, they are not required to do so. Viskase Corp. v. Am. Nat'l Can Co., 261 F.3d 1316, 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2001). The decision to grant a stay is within the court's discretion. Id. In evaluating whether a stay is appropriate, courts consider the following factors:

1) whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present a clear tactical disadvantage to ...

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