Bunch O Balloons – Josh Malone’s Brainchild – Takes A Win
“While the Bunch O Balloons case certainly includes a unique element of fun, it also made a splash regarding novel legal issues that should be of interest to intellectual property practitioners and patent owners.”
IPWatchdog’s coverage of the November 2017 Bunch O Balloons district court trial left off with an Eastern District of Texas jury awarding $12.3 million in damages to patent owner Tinnus Enterprises and its partner ZURU against major U.S. telemarketing firms Telebrands and its subsidiaries. The jury found that Telebrands had willfully infringed Tinnus’ patents that protected Tinnus’ Bunch O Balloons invention, and that those patents were not invalid. But even with the November 2017 jury award in place, Tinnus still faced the upcoming specter of patent validity trials for which Telebrands had petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for the patents-in-suit. Additionally, the Eastern District of Texas had not yet ruled on post-trial motions regarding the jury’s verdict.
Telebrands’ Balloon Bursts
The district court and the PTAB have since issued their rulings, and both bodies independently agreed that the patents-in-suit (U.S. Patent No. 9315282 and U.S. Patent No. 9242749) were not invalid. On March 27, 2019, Judge Schroeder in the Eastern District of Texas released his unsealed post-trial order. Specifically, the Judge Schroeder agreed with the jury’s findings that the patents-in-suit were not invalid and that Telebrands willfully infringed those patents by selling its competing Battle Balloons product. In finding that “[t]his was not a close case,” the judge doubled the jury’s damages award to $24,500,000 under 35 U.S.C. § 284. The judge also found the case to be “exceptional” and awarded $4,750,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs. Tinnus and ZURU were also awarded pre- and post-judgment interest. In sum, the district court’s final judgment awarded over $30 million.