Company sues Whole Foods for patent infringement over phone app

By Andrew Thomason | Oct 22, 2013

A Northbrook company is continuing its trend of filing lawsuits against national companies for allegedly infringing on patents when developing smartphone applications.

Cascades Branding Innovation LLC earlier this month filed a complaint in Chicago’s federal court against Whole Foods Markets, the upscale grocery store chain based out of Austin.

Steven Gold developed and licensed patents through Cascades Branding Innovation. The patents outline how a smartphone application could display a map of its user’s location and the location of branded products by using location data from the device.

Cascades was issued three patents regarding Gold’s work. The first patent was issued in 2010, the second in 2012 and the last 2013, according to the suit.

During that time frame, Whole Foods developed a smartphone application that allows users to select a Whole Foods icon to locate stores in their vicinity on a map without having to manually enter the device's location. The application is currently available only for the Apple iPhone and iPad.

Whole Foods, according to the complaint, was made aware of two of the patents in 2011 when a notice of infringement was sent to the company on behalf of Cascades.

The notice made a license offer to abate Whole Foods’ infringement, which Whole Foods declined. Follow up letters were sent over the next two years and the suit alleges Whole Foods did not respond to them.

Whole Foods' “infringement has therefore been reckless, without objective basis, and willful,” the suit assert.

The three-count complaint contends that Whole Foods is intentionally causing others – users, business partners, and others – to infringe on Cascades’ patents by providing its application to the public.

Cascades claims it has suffered and will continue to suffer injury and damages from Whole Foods’ actions unless the court acts.

Additionally, the counts allege Whole Foods is knowingly contributing to customer infringement.

Cascades seeks a jury trial and damages to compensate for the infringement and prejudgment interest from the date of the infringement.

The company also seeks an award of all remedies available under federal statue, including increased damages for willfulness, a permanent injunction prohibiting further infringement and any other further relief determined by the court.

Cascades has filed suits for alleged patent infringement involving smartphone applications that allow brand mapping based on a smartphone's location since at least 2011 against companies, including Walgreen Co., the insurance company Allstate and the movie rental kiosk company Redbox.

Attorneys William W. Flachsbart, Robert P. Greenspoon and Michael R. La Porte of Flachsbart & Greenspoon in Chicago represent Cascades in the Whole Foods case, and have represented the company in some their previous patent infringement cases.


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