A global consumer products company has sued Grand Rapids-based Ranir LLC, alleging the company willfully violated an earlier out-of-court settlement related to its sale of teeth whitening strips.
The case stems from an agreement that Cincinnati, Ohio-based Procter & Gamble Co. reached with Brushpoint Innovations Inc. of Toronto, which Ranir acquired in October 2016, to stop selling a competing tooth-whitening strip to retailers.
In 2014, Brushpoint agreed with stop selling the whitening strips to settle a 2012 lawsuit by P&G claiming patent infringement.
P&G, one of the world’s largest makers of consumer health care products, now claims that Ranir began producing and selling whitening strips at Wal-mart, Kroger and possibly other retailers across the U.S. The strips are “essentially the same” as P&G’s Crest Whitestrips product that was the subject of the 2012 case, according to a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
P&G alleges Ranir, which produces store-brand oral care products, began selling the strips months before the June 6, 2017, expiration of the 2014 agreement with Brushpoint.
In court papers, P&G claims Ranir’s actions were a “willful, wanton, malicious, and flagrant act of piracy.”
“Ranir has acted deliberately and in bad faith, intentionally reneging on its prior agreements with P&G including the contractual obligations it assumed when it acquired Brushpoint,” the company said in court filings.
Ranir did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this report.
Claiming lost sales and a loss of market share, P&G asks the court for temporary and permanent injunctions against Ranir, damages “adequate to compensate P&G for Ranir’s infringement,” and triple punitive damages for its “willful infringement” of patents.
In several lawsuits since 2012, P&G successfully has defended its patents on the Crest Whitestrips. Ranir even agreed in 2012 to voluntarily halt the production and sale of its tooth-whitening product after P&G raised infringements concerns, according to this week’s lawsuit.
Ranir even told P&G about “other private label manufacturers who were also infringing P&G’s patents,” according to the lawsuit.
“On several occasions, Ranir acted as a self-appointed whistleblower and reported other manufacturers that it had determined were infringing P&G’s patents,” according to the court filing.