May 24, 2010 - A company called San Francisco Technology Inc. filed a false marking lawsuit against Delta Faucet and 13 other, unrelated companies for using expired patent numbers on their products.
The type of lawsuit San Francisco Technology filed is called a qui tam lawsuit, which means a lawsuit that any citizen can bring on behalf of the government.
The topic of false marking lawsuits and the opportunists who file them has been covered in our own Wealth of Ideas Blog - see "Closing the Window of Opportunity," "The New Trolls" and "A Vanishing Opportunity?".
Since December, when a federal appeals court expanded the amount a defendant would have to pay for false marking from $500 per incident to $500 per marked item (and that can mean $500 per each individual coffee cup lid), more than 200 false marking suits have been filed in federal courts against over 100 companies.
In the case of Delta Faucet, the expired patent numbers appeared in advertising that was published a decade after the patents expired. Daniel Fingerman, one of the attorneys representing San Francisco Technology in its suit against Delta Faucet et al, said, "The defendants might want to be seen as sloppy or that these patent marks are an oversight, but we think these were a conscious decision."