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Federal Circuit Court Upholds Blendtec’s $24M Patent Infringement Award

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Utah-based blender company grateful for resolution in 7-year dispute.

OREM, UTAH – September 10, 2012.  The Federal Circuit of Appeals on Thursday upheld Blendtec’s $24 million willful patent infringement award, rejecting Vita-Mix Corp.’s appeal of the damages that a Utah federal court ordered Vita-Mix to pay its rival for selling blenders that infringed two of Blendtec’s patents.

“This decision sends a strong message to those who would attempt to profit from the labor and ideas of someone else. Truly it’s a win for America’s visionaries, innovators, and entrepreneurs, who build dreams, create jobs, and positively impact the economy,” says Tom Dickson, founder and CEO of Blendtec, who invented the revolutionary WildSide™ jar, which was the subject of the case.

“As we close this chapter, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many individuals—patent examiners, judges, jurors, attorneys, and many others—who devoted their time and effort to protecting intellectual property rights and produced a fair and accurate outcome.”

In the ruling issued September 6, Federal Circuit Judges Pauline Newman, Alan Lourie, and Sharon Prost affirmed the US District Court’s earlier ruling that Vita-Mix had knowingly and irreparably harmed Blendtec by intentionally copying the company’s WildSide jar—a five-sided container that blends more quickly and completely than other containers.

The affirmation should bring to a close the protracted legal efforts by Utah-based Blendtec to protect its intellectual assets, upholding the lower court’s $24 million damages award—one of the largest patent infringement awards in the history of Utah.

Innovator versus Imitator

Tom Dickson, Blendtec founder and CEO, as well as inventor of the WildSide Jar

Since 1991, Blendtec has pioneered high-powered blender technology for use in commercial and residential settings. In 2001 Blendtec introduced the WildSide jar, designed with a distinctive fifth side. Competitor Vita-Mix noticed. After attempting—and failing—to devise a competitive jar of its own, Vita-Mix decided to willfully copy Blendtec’s design.

District court documents cite former Vita-Mix employees, such as Scott Hinckley, Vita-Mix’s marketing director at the time, who wrote the following in an email about a customer: “They absolutely LOVE the new Blendtec container. This is an example of how it stacks up to ours: In our machine: 2 drinks take 30 seconds. 3 or more are impossible. In Blendtec’s new container: 4 drinks in 15 seconds.”

Jonathan Katz, the director of engineering at Vita-Mix at the time, testified that “although Vita-Mix considered other, design-around concepts, it ultimately chose to continue its infringing design.”

An Appeal without Merit

Throughout the legal process, the evidence was reviewed by numerous individuals, including the trial jury, seven federal judges and four patent examiners—all of whom were unanimous in their support of Blendtec’s case.

The Federal Court of Appeals concluded, “We have considered Vita-Mix’s remaining arguments and conclude that they are without merit.…The judgment of the district court is affirmed.”

For the full text of the opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, see http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/11-1244-1484-1512.pdf.

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26 thoughts on “Federal Circuit Court Upholds Blendtec’s $24M Patent Infringement Award

  1. Rich W

    Congrats, I have been on the fence as to which blender I am going to purchase. This seals the deal for me, I prefer not to support a company that is willing to steal ideas from the competitor.

    Reply
  2. Mary Jane

    Congratulations Tom! I am so glad justice prevailed! It has been fun to watch you create and develop your Blendtec through the years. I LOVE my Wildside!

    Reply
  3. Dean Richardson

    I love almost everything about the Blendtec and the engineering is 2nd to none.

    I am VERY happy about your patent win.

    Now, what can we do about the non-replaceable blades and is there any way to get you guys to build an all “Made and Assembled In The USA” model? China makes good stuff, but we do too. It is the only thing that has put me on the fence with Blendtec. Any hope in a USA model?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Carlson Post author

      Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Dean!

      To address your two concerns:

      Our blade assembly is permanently attached in the factory for two reasons: 1) It increases the life of the jar. We’ve found that our jars last longer than others that feature a removable blade assembly. 2) Our single-blade design makes it easy to clean, so removal of the blade assembly becomes unnecessary.

      We employ hundreds of Americans. We engineer, design and assemble in the USA. We do our own injection molding, and create from raw steel the drive shafts and other components for our products. Some state laws claim that if a company does not know the origin of its materials — like where its steel comes from, or where its colorant comes from — then the company cannot claim its products are made on this soil. For example, if a manufacturer buys steel from a US supplier who imports their steel from Switzerland, then the manufacturer must declare where that steel came from — even though the raw steel is turned into bolts in a plant in the US. According to some states, those bolts are not made here.

      Blendtec is proud to say that we source 90% of our materials from within the United States, and we’re continually working to push that percentage higher.

      Reply
  4. Stopper

    I have been looking at several models and I like others don’t want to buy from a company that is unscrupulous. Tom Dickson reminds me of my mentor, my father who invented a device (not a blender of course). I couldn’t imagine all the heart ache that our family would have felt had the same happened to us. We have been around for 30+ years and worked hard. We are not anywhere near the size of your company but proud of employing 100 employees and sales reps around the world. Congrats Mr. Dickson and family and dedicated staff. Proud to be purchasing your blender even more. I will hold of my first glass of the item i make in my new designer series blender and toast to your continues success.

    LT

    Reply
  5. momaboy

    I have walked by Vita-mix demos multiple times, at Costco, but was not very impressed until a Blendtec demo. I’m convinced and bought one. Love it! Congratulation on the court winning. I’m glad I made the right decision to buy Blendtec.

    Reply
    1. Bruce

      I watched a Blentec demo on You Tube @ a Costco and out of curiosity I went and watched 2 different Vitamix demos and the Vitamix presenters IMO seemed “plastic/fake” and were quite boring. The Blendtec presenters have pizzazz and you can tell they genuinely know they have the best product money can buy.

      Personally I’ve tried the Ninja, magic bullet , Nutri bullet, some Walmart low priced blenders and NOTHING comes close to my Blendtec Champ HP3 ! I know it’s old as the hills but WOW it turns kale leaves into “smooth” substance that’s enjoyable and now I have a “Twister Jar” on order and am “eyeing” that “Wild Side” jar next! You guys are the genuine deal and your blenders last forever!

      The reason I bought the Blendtec (K-tec) was because when I worked next door to a Smoothie King, I noticed that they used this brand and I wanted a blender that could make professional smoothies. I haven’t been disappointed except for the jar but not that you have these new jars, I’m in smoothie heaven.

      Reply
  6. Maria Turney

    We finally got a Blendtec! We were at Costco today and have seen the demo of this product. We’ve been thinking about buying this for almost 2 years. The lady (Erika) sold us the unit! She seems very knowledgeable about Blendtec. She said the warranty is normally 7 years, but if bought from Costco, an additional year of warranty is added, making the warranty a total of 8 years. That’s wonderful! Another thing she mentioned is we can purchase the bigger wildside jar paying just 13.00 for shipping. I did not see where I can do that. Can you help? Thanks and my family is looking forward to our first fresh organic smoothie tomorrow for breakfast!

    Reply
    1. Kelli Farley

      Hi Maria,

      I’m glad to hear that you’re so excited about your new Blendtec. We did have WildSide jars on sale last week as a part of a million dollar giveaway; unfortunately we sold out and no longer have that discount available on the jars.

      Reply
    2. Bruce Carlson Post author

      Congratulations on your new blender! You’re going to have a wonderful time doing some amazing things with it.

      We recently ran a Share the Love WildSide jar promotion, in which we gave away $1 million worth of WildSide jars. That promotion has since expired, but keep an eye on our newsletter and Facebook page for future deals!

      Reply
  7. Daniel

    Wow. Congrats to Blendtec by the way! Its interesting running into this post. I was at Costco today looking into buying a blender and they happened to have a demonstration of Vitamix. I couldn’t tell you why but my gut feeling really steered toward Blendtec no matter what I saw. Anyways I bought the Blendtec and am happy that I did. Looking forward to using this beast!

    Reply
  8. Frank

    My wife and I have watched several demos of the Vitamix blender at Costco’s and we were very impressed. My wife wanted one but I was not ready to dish out that kind of money without doing some comparison research on-line. After reading several non-basis reviews and seeing a Blendtec demo at Costco’s I was convinced that the Blendtec was the better choice. Needless to say that my wife is very happy with the choice we made.

    Reply
  9. Art Bliss

    I’ve had my Blendtec for over 2 years and it has almost 2000 on the counter and I love it. If Blendtec could sue and win a patent infringement against Vitamix why can’t you sue Omega because their blender looks just like a Blendtec? It has the square jar and the wing blade.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Carlson Post author

      Thanks for sharing the love! Yes, it’s true: Sometimes another company loves Blendtec so much they decide to copy our technology. Our legal team looks at these cases and determines how to proceed—so I can’t really speak to the hows or whys of our legal recourse. But, as we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We’d just prefer that the flattery happen in comments to friends and family :)

      Reply
  10. Adrian Hernandez

    Several years ago, we were thinking of switching from Blendtec to VitaMix blenders for our store. We were at a tradeshow and talked to the Blendtec rep who showed us this revolutionary new jar, the Wildside. He gave us one free of charge and told us we’d be sure to stick with Blendtec once we used the new jar. He was right! We have been loyal since and the Wildside is truly the absolute best jar out there… now that we have the Stealth in our stores, it’s unimaginable that we would ever use another blender. There’s simply no comparison. Blendtec is the creme de la creme and worth every cent!

    Reply
  11. Bob Hurt

    I bought a Vitamix at the Florida State Fair in the year 2000. It came with a 5-year warranty. Three years later, the motor controller started malfunctioning, so the blender would jump from low to high speed unexpectedly. I didn’t send it in to get it fixed within the warranty period, so it still malfunctions, but I have gotten used to it, like someone who developed palsy in childhood. Frankly, I don’t use it as much as I otherwise would because I hate cleaning the thing, AND because much of the food I blend in it gets stuck under or near the blades, and I can only get it out by using my fingers to dislodge it. I bought the Vitamix because I wanted a “nuclear-powered” (so to speak) blender that would blend the toughest foods, make soups, and turn grains into fine flour. But I have found that I have to use the tamper with many foods so as to jam the food into the blades. And sometimes, food compacts in the bottom during blending and I have to turn it off and use a knife to dig down into the muck and dislodge the stuck food from the very bottom of the jar. I’d love to have a Blendtec blender with the easy-to-clean, no-hassle Wildside design. It’s time for a change from my klunky old Vitamix to something better with a new design that Vitamix cannot steal.

    Reply
  12. Matt Sedlacek

    Having been an affiliate for both Vitamix and Blendtec since 2007, I’ve followed the changes in both companies over the years, both in terms of how their product offerings have evolved, and the quality and means with which they manage and communicate with their affiliates.

    I can’t say enough good things about Blendtec and their affiliate program, by far the best in this industry as the level of service and support they provide to their affiliates is absolutely top notch. Landon Michaels, the current Affiliate & Digital Marketing Manager, is an absolute pleasure to work with. Considering how well they treat their affiliates I’d say this is a sign that they have a high standard of conduct within the company as well.

    I have also been impressed with the consistency with which Blendtec/K-TEC has been innovating in this industry. First with the Wildside container, and more recently the direct drive motor which is the first major change to significantly reduce noise emission from high-end blenders, as well as push past the long standing 7 year warranty standard for both companies, now at 8 years for Blendtec’s products with this technology.

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  13. artemio madrid

    They had a sale at Costco yesterday for blendtec and the lady overwhelmed me and my son with the features, especially the computerized buttons and the one for ice cream. it is really a far cry from Vitamix, so my son bought two, one for himself and one for me.
    Now i can make my own healthy ice cream and smoothies just be pressing a button and not guess like in vitamix. Kudos to your win. you deserve it.

    Reply

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