Two years ago, eyewear framemaker Aspex filed suit against vision benefits titan Vision Service Plan under anti-trust and unfair competition claims that VSP had stolen Aspex’s patented technology and business. The initial claim and a subsequent appeal both were dismissed in courts.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week affirmed the 2010 ruling of the California Federal Court, which dismissed Aspex Eyewear’s lawsuit against VSP. With the case now dismissed, VSP says this ruling reaffirms its right to refuse to conduct business with companies who sue them — specifically, Aspex Eyewear.
“We are pleased with the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling,” says Thomas A. Fessler, chief legal officer VSP. “This court’s determination marks yet another favorable court decision against the multiple unsuccessful lawsuits Aspex Eyewear has brought against VSP and its affiliated companies.”
Obviously, Aspex has a different perspective: “We’re trying to highlight that the doctors and patients are being victimized. They can only affect us by interfering with our relationship,” says Jose Pena, chief counsel at Aspex.
The Ninth Circuit decision is the third to favor VSP Global. In September 2011, the Massachusetts Federal Court declared the last remaining patent claim that Aspex tried to assert against Altair Eyewear, owned by VSP, as invalid and unenforceable. Two months later, the Florida Federal Court likewise dismissed Aspex’s patent infringement lawsuit filed against Marchon Eyewear, another company owned by VSP. Pena maintains that they are not serial litigators, but “we’re defending our rights and we have to go through lawsuit to do that; we only did it because it was necessary to defend ourselves.”
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