Ms. Schwendimann and Mr. Nasser ultimately overcame their challenges and successfully developed techniques allowing the at-home application of high-quality inkjet-printed images onto dark fabric in a single step. Reliable customization of dark clothing was suddenly within reach of ordinary consumers. It also allowed businesses to print smaller batches of customized shirts economically. Ms. Schwendimann and Mr. Nasser applied for, and were awarded, several patents for their innovative dark fabric transfer technology.
Ms. Schwendimann eventually obtained control of the rights to her dark-fabric transfer inventions. She commercialized those inventions, consumers embraced her products, and her business grew.
Unsurprisingly, competitors wanted to appropriate that market for themselves. In 2008, she was forced to sue one of those competitors for patent infringement. Nine years later, an Article III district court ruled that the competitor had willfully infringed her patents. That verdict was affirmed by another Article III court on appeal. The suit vindicated Ms. Schwendimann as the true inventor of the patented 16 technology and its validity over the prior art. Yet, even with a willful-infringement verdict against it, the misappropriation turned out to be very lucrative for the defendant, based on its profits minus legal fees and payment to Ms. Schwendimann.
To protect her business, Ms. Schwendimann initiated three more lawsuits. Groups of alleged infringers responded with a combined fifteen petitions for IPR against eight of her patents. Three of the petitions are currently awaiting a decision on whether to institute review, but of the remaining five patents, four are subject to an astonishing ten concurrent IPRs. Only one patent has so far avoided institution of review of the two petitions against it.