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Thule Sues Swiss Cargo To Protect Patents

Published April 29, 2010

SEYMOUR, CT (BRAIN)—Thule filed a lawsuit in Canadian court this week against Swiss Cargo and its parent company, GSC Technologies of Champlain, New York. The suit follows an initial complaint Thule filed in Utah district court last September.

Both suits allege that Swiss Cargo represented Thule and Sportrack products as its own, violating U.S. and Canadian intellectual property laws.

Thule PR and communications manager Karl Wiedemann said Thule chose Utah as the U.S. jurisdiction because the issue originated at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah.

At Outdoor Retailer last July, Thule discovered that Swiss Cargo was displaying products that it felt bore a striking resemblance to its own rack, carrier and roof basket products. Thule believed them to be its own products for sale under Swiss Cargo’s own branding, including some with Thule’s trademarks removed.

Thule claims that Swiss Cargo has either copied or impermissibly relabeled Thule’s 970/971 Helium bicycle rack, 844 Roll Model, 91725 Universal Flat Top 6, 91724 Universal Flat Top 4, A21030 roof basket and ABR511 kayak carrier. The U.S. lawsuit also states that Swiss Cargo violated Thule’s U.S. Patent Numbers 6,023,821 and 5,546,705 and U.S. Design Patent Numbers D415,096, D614,563 and D614,564. Patents include designs such as Thule’s dual-side opening on its rooftop cargo box.

Thule sent a letter asking Swiss Cargo to cease and desist questionable activities, noting that if it persisted it would formally serve them with the lawsuit.

“We have tried to avoid a lawsuit,” said Fred Clark, president of Thule, Inc. “We have communicated trying to settle the matter but have not received an adequate response; therefore we needed to take legal action.”

Thule is seeking unspecified damages.

GSC Technologies, the parent company of Swiss Cargo, is a Canadian manufacturer based in Quebec. It molds plastic goods including storage and organization products, utility shelving and cabinets, and kayaks sold under the Future Beach brand.

Swiss Cargo filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction. A hearing is scheduled for June.

—Megan Tompkins

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