FieldTurf v. Sprinturf (Fed. Cir. 2005) (Newman, Schall and Dyke)
Offer to Sell: In a competitive bidding process, SportField (Sprinturf) submitted a bid to supply a school district with artificial turf that would allegedly infringe FieldTurf’s patents. Although the written bid specified an infringing product, SportField argued that it actually intended to supply its standard product that did not infringe (contrary to the written offer).
On appeal, the CAFC affirmed the lower court’s finding that the bid was not an infringing “offer to sell.” In its decision, the appellate panel cited three reasons for ignoring the explicit language of the bid:
- The school officials were aware of differences between the products of the two companies;
- The bid was never completed — “avoiding the accrual of damages for infringement;” and
- California law states that a bid specifying a patented product can be satisfied with an equivalent but non-infringing product.
Standard Setting: The appellate panel revered the lower court’s finding that FieldTurf had improperly interfered with SportField’s business. This decision may be read to support businesses that push their patented products as “industry standards.”
Efforts of commercial entities to achieve specifications that favor their product are not illegal, absent fraud or deception.