Inventor of Bed Bug Encasement Product Files Patent Lawsuit

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Lawyers representing Petra Michael recently filed a patent lawsuit against JAB Distributors for the correction of inventorship of patent of the bed bug encasement product Protect-A-Bed.

Lawyers representing the original inventor of a bed bug encasement product, Protect-A-Bed Bug Off (later rebranded Protect-A-Bed AllerZip) filed a complaint July 1, 2011, against JAB Distributors (d/b/a Protect-A-Bed) in Northbrook, Illinois for correction of inventorship of patent.

The case was filed by Chicago trial lawyer Carmen D. Caruso and employment lawyer Gary Abrams, on behalf of Petra Michael in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division.

The complaint alleges, Protect-A-Bed, became the owner of a U.S. Patent for the bed bug encasement called Protect-A-Bed Bug Off, later rebranded as Protect-A-Bed AllerZip, without naming Petra Michael as the inventor.

“When James Bell and JAB Distributors applied for and secured a patent they wrongfully converted intellectual property that originated with Petra Michael,” Caruso said.

According to the complaint, in 2005 and 2006, Michael, then an Illinois resident and independent contractor to JAB Distributors, LLC responsible for sales to hotel industry, created a bed bug encasement product to address the growing concern of bed bug infestations now prevalent in the hotel industry.

Her product idea was novel, useful and not obvious. It was a patentable product or would become patentable with some refinements, the complaint alleges.

According to the complaint, Michael conceived and initially developed the bed bug encasement product on her own time while she was an independent contractor for the defendant, sewing her own initial product prototypes.

Michael trusted her relationship with James Bell and JAB Distributors and presented her idea to him. Bell was enthusiastic about her idea and it was understood and agreed both expressly and implied that Michael originated the idea and would be financially rewarded, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges, Michael continued to develop and refine her product seeking opinions of researchers and industry experts. By the spring of 2006, Michael and JAB Distributors brought a first version of the bed bug encasement to market. The product was sold and Michael received a commission from the sale with the balance to be re-invested in the product development.

The complaint alleges Michael was repeatedly told she will become a very wealthy woman. As the product was introduced at the February 2007 annual convention, JAB Distributors acknowledged it was Petra Michael’s idea.

On May 31, 2007, James Bell and two other individuals applied for the patent for the bed bug encasement based on Michael’s idea that she conceived and brought to Bell and JAB in 2005. The Patent recites that Bell and his co-applicants assigned the patent to JAB Distributors. No one obtained Petra Michaels’ assignment of her rights to the patent, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges, JAB Distributors then harassed and constructively terminated Michael forcing her out of the company leaving her with nothing as being the true originator of the idea that was developed into the bed bug encasement.

Caruso and Abrams on behalf of Michael are also seeking damages for common law fraud, conversion, tortuous interference, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duties and breach of contract seeking compensatory damages for economic and other injuries and punitive damages.

The cases is filed as Petra Michael V James Bell and JAB Distributors LLC Case No. 1:11-cv-04484
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Phil Caruso
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