In a real-life pool and spa industry case of David versus Goliath, the little guy looks like winner — again.
As featured in our Dec. 15 issue, Solar Sun Rings, the Murrieta, Calif.-based family-run manufacturer sued the giant retailer Wal-Mart for patent infringement.
After attempting — unsuccessfully — to license the Solar Sun Rings for sale in its stores, Wal-Mart, the suit charged, contracted with a Chinese manufacturer to produce a similar product that it offered for sale at about half the retail price of the original.
Just days before federal trial was to begin, lawyers for the two companies have announced a settlement was reached in the case.
Wal-Mart will discontinue selling the Solar Pad, according to the attorney for Solar Sun Rings. Other terms of the settlement, characterized as "confidential," were not disclosed.
“The only thing that I can say is that the lawsuit was resolved to the mutually satisfaction of both parties,” Lora Rosene, CEO of Solar Sun Rings, said.
After denying Wal-Mart’s action for summary judgment on all counts in the case, jury selection for trial before Federal District Judge Phillip Gutierrez had been scheduled for Dec. 4. The settlement was announced before court proceedings began.
A Wal-Mart spokesperson confirmed the settlement and provided the news media with a written statement:
"Wal-Mart respects the intellectual property rights of others. Three patents were dismissed from the case before trial. While Wal-Mart was confident the remaining patent had not been infringed, on Friday the parties reached a confidential agreement to end the case that made sense for our company."
Rosene’s husband Richard was a pool service tech in the San Fernando Valley and Inland Empire for more than 20 years. He developed the Solar Sun Rind with the assistance of his father-in-law, David Bartoli. The Rosene’s and Bartoli began selling the Solar Sun Rings in 2004.
Wal-Mart, it was charged, started selling a knockoff product in 2009, which reportedly cost Solar Sun Rings upwards of $3 million in sales.