In 2014, Ecolab Inc.’s Textile Care Division filed a suit against Gurtler Industries, Inc. claiming that Gurtler had infringed on Ecolab’s Patent No. 6,262,013: “Sanitizing Laundry Sour” issued on July 21, 2001.
The Ecolab patent described the use of a peracetic acid (PAA) sanitizer that also acts as a neutralizer (sour) in the laundry process. Ecolab introduced a product, AdvaCare 120 Sanitizer/Sour, which refers to this patent on its label.
Gurtler maintained that it did not infringe the patent claims and that the applicability of PAA as a laundry sanitizer and bleach was a well-known technology prior to the filing of the Ecolab patent.
Contending that the patent was invalid, Gurtler asked the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to open a reexamination of the patent claims.
After an exhaustive reexamination and appeals process, on August 29, 2018, it was determined by the USPTO that the Ecolab patent was invalid; all original and amended claims in the patent were rejected as unpatentable, according to a Gurtler news release.
After exhausting all the routes of appeal within the USPTO, Ecolab appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. However, in its case against Gurtler, Ecolab has moved to voluntarily dismiss all claims against Gurtler.
“In a classic David and Goliath story, we have battled and won along every step of the process,” said Greg Gurtler, president of Gurtler Industries. “We have defended our strong belief that Gurtler did not do anything wrong in this case. The Patent Office rejected Ecolab’s position four times, so it appears they agreed with Gurtler that the patent was invalid and ultimately, that we did nothing wrong. Gurtler is a highly ethical, family-run business and we will always vigorously defend ourselves when accused of not playing by the rules.”
For more information and a timeline of events go here
Editor Note: Ecolab did not return calls for comment.