Today's case is a bit outside our normal ambit here at IP/DE, dealing with the patent-adjacent field of false advertising under the Lanham Act. Since you often see such claims brought alongside patent claims, I think its fair game. Also, you're not the boss of me and none of you can stop me.
Except any judges who may read this, you are frequently the boss of me.
Our case today is one of those where the Lanham Act claims were brought together with the patent infringement claims, in the charmingly named North Atlantic Imports, LLC v. LoCo Crazy Good Cookers, Inc., C.A. No. 23-999-GBW-SRF (D. Del. Jan. 23, 2024). In fact, the claims were oddly intertwined given that one of the alleged false statements was that the defendant stated that its LoCo Crazy (!) grills contained "patented SmartTemp Technology." Apparently, there is no such patent.
Aside from being hilarious, the interesting facet of this opinion was that the Court found that statements about this made-up patent and some other puffery about LoCo Crazy (!!) innovations, might actually induce buyers to make purchasing decisions - at least enough to survive a motion to dismiss:
the complaint contains fact-based allegations featuring Defendant's actual advertisements to show how those ads highlight Defendant's "patented SmartTemp™" technology to sway customers. The complaint further alleges that Plaintiff and Defendant are direct competitors who sell their products at the same stores, including Lowes and Home Depot. (Id at ,r 29) Construing these allegations in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, it is reasonable to infer that customers would consider Defendant's false advertisements material to their purchasing decisions when faced with two similar, directly competing products. Defendant's position that Plaintiff must plead customer reliance at the time of the purchasing decision is supported by post-judgment case law, as opposed to cases addressing a motion to dismiss the pleading.
Id. at 5
Lesson for Crazy LoCo (!!!!) small business owners out there. Try not to make up patents. A good grill sells itself.