Oakley and Motorola Sued for Infringement of Sunglass Headphone Patent

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USAmerican LLC of Beverly Hills has filed a complaint for patent infringement against Oakley and Motorola alleging that the "Razrwire" sunglass/bluetooth headset product marketed jointly by Oakley and Motorola infringes a patent issued in 1990 for "Sunglass Headphones."

USAmerican LLC of Beverly Hills announced today that it has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Oakley, Inc. and Motorola, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging that the popular "Razrwire" sunglasses and headset combination jointly marketed by Oakley and Motorola infringes U.S. Patent No. 4,902,120 ("the '120 patent"). The lawsuit, Civil Action No. CV06-0010 CAS (SSx) was filed in Los Angeles on January 3, 2006.

The '120 patent was filed in November 1988 by Frank Weyer, an attorney and engineer, who was annoyed by his earphones falling out while jogging. While jogging past the UN building in New York City, Mr. Weyer came up with the idea of attaching earphones to his sunglasses, thereby keeping them comfortably in place.

After the '120 patent issued in February 1990, Mr. Weyer formed a company, American Innovative Products, Inc., to market his invention. Advertising in running magazines and at running events, Mr. Weyer sold several thousand pairs of his sunglasses/earphone product, which were called "Cruisers (TM)." Mr. Weyer also licensed his invention to Virtual I/O, who used the patented earphone mounting system in a virtual reality goggle product called "Iglasses."

In 1994, Oakley unsuccessfully sued Mr. Weyer's company for patent infringement, alleging that the sunglasses American Innovative Products was using infringed on several Oakley patents. Mr. Weyer, who is a patent attorney, countersued, pointing out that if what Oakley alleged was true, Oakley's patents were invalid. Oakley quickly dropped the case.

"In the early 1990's, sunglasses with earphones were ahead of their time," explained Mr. Weyer. "Now, with the convergence of leisure activities and technology, their time has finally come."

The irony of his company sueing Oakley for patent infringment over ten years after Oakley sued his company is not lost on Mr. Weyer. "Oakley is known for filing multiple patent applications, obtaining patents of questionable validity, and aggressively asserting those patents, mostly against small companies, in an effort to prevent competition with its generally good quality but greatly overpriced products. There is some justice in Oakley finally getting a taste of its own medicine."

Mr. Weyer recently formed his new company, USAmerican LLC, to produce and market an updated version of the "Cruisers" product, as well as an MP3 player/sunglasses product to compete with Oakley's popular "Thump" product. "Our product," says Mr. Weyer, "will be lower cost, more comfortable, look better, and sound better than Oakley's Thump. We are calling the product 'Stompers', and our motto will be 'Why only thump, when you can stomp!'"

Mr. Weyer, inventor on more than 10 patents, is not a stranger to patent lawsuits against large companies. Last year, he successfully sued Ford for infringement of his patent for changing the color of automobile instrument panel illumination, used in the wildly successful new Ford Mustang. The year before that, he successfully sued Register.com and Network Solutions for infringement of an internet domain name naming system.

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