FenF LLC, a privately held non-practicing entity that has brought 7 previous enforcement actions against 29 defendants including one pending against Benchmark Brands Inc., has filed enforcement actions against The Walking Company after it acquired FootSmart Inc. from Benchmark Brands in August.

The action filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Michigan before Judge Avern Cohn alleges that the Walking Company is knowingly infringing FenF patents and knew about FenF’s ongoing infringement action against Benchmark Brands when it acquired FootSmart from Benchmark Brands.

Troy, Michigan-based FenF is owned by inventor Frederic Ferri, who also is listed as the inventor of the patents in suit.

The patents in suit are U.S. Patent No. 8,002,675, entitled “Foot-Therapy and Toe Aligning Device;” 9,138,616, entitled “Foot-Therapy and Toe Aligning Device;” and 9,387,359, entitled “Foot-Therapy and Toe Aligning Device.”

According to the complaint, “the Walking Company acquired all of the assets of FootSmart, a division of Benchmark Brands Inc., through a UCC Article 9 asset purchase that closed in August 2016, including all tangible and intangible property such as the footsmart.com website, the FootSmart mail-order catalogue, and all inventory sold under the FootSmart
brand.”

The complaint alleges that the Walking Company “assumed ownership and control over the footsmart.com website and the FootSmart mail-order catalogue since the Walking Company’s acquisition of FootSmart from Benchmark Brands.

“Through at least the footsmart.com website, Defendants market, advertise, offer to sell, and/or sell a foot-therapy product known as ‘Spredz Gel Toe Stretcher” that is designed to treat various foot and toe ailments.

The Spredz product “competes directly with FenF’s patented YogaToes GEMS product."

“Defendants were aware of a pending patent infringement suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan between FenF and Benchmark Brands involving the ’675, the ’616, and the ’359 patents and the accused Spredz product, prior to acquiring the assets of FootSmart from Benchmark Brands.

FenF is seeking a ruling that the Walking Co. and FootSmart are directly infringing, one or more claims of the ’675, the ’616 and the ’359 patents. The company is alleging willful infringement, which would be triple any assessed damages, and exceptional case fees.

The company is represented by Richard Hoffman and Michael Druzinski of the law firm of Reising Ethington P.C. in Troy, Michigan.

Officials from FenF and its counsel couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

FenF has had mixed success in winning confidential settlements with Taylor Gifts Co. and Healio Healthcare and losing in an infringement action against SmartThingz Inc.

—To reach the reporter responsible for this story, contact Dan Lonkevich at 707 318-7899 or dan@thepatentinvestor.com