Harlequin Files Suit Challenging EFI's Business Practices
WALTHAM, Mass., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Harlequin announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Electronics for Imaging, Inc. (Nasdaq: EFII) ("EFI") claiming that EFI has violated the Lanham Act, a federal law which governs, among other things, false advertising. In its complaint, Harlequin charges that EFI has violated the Lanham Act by telling Harlequin's OEM customers that Harlequin's products infringe EFI's patents when EFI knows or should know that their allegations are false. In addition to federal claims, the suit also claims that EFI has violated several Massachusetts state laws, including defamation and the Massachusetts Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Statute. The suit, filed on January 3, 2000 in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts, seeks to prevent EFI from disseminating to Harlequin's OEM customers and the industry at large false claims that Harlequin's products infringe EFI's patents as well as recovery of unspecified damages. According to Harlequin, the suit was triggered by EFI's recent letters to several of Harlequin's OEM customers threatening them with legal action if they continue to sell Harlequin products that EFI falsely claims infringe on its patents. Harlequin believes that EFI has resorted to these pressure tactics because EFI has been unable to find any legal support to prove its claims of patent infringement as alleged in its lawsuit filed in November 1998. In addition, Harlequin noted that EFI has taken the desperate step of contacting a Harlequin OEM that does not even sell or license product into the United States. "In our opinion, EFI has embarked on a public campaign to smear Harlequin's products with the taint of infringement when EFI knows that it has no basis for its claims," stated Johan Volckaerts, Chairman of Harlequin Limited. "EFI is clearly trying to frighten our customers and materially damage our business reputation. EFI's allegations are completely unfounded, and we are particularly disturbed by EFI's threats to abuse the court's rules and attempt to drag our customers into its lawsuit," he said. In addition to commenting on the grounds for Harlequin's suit, Mr. Volckaerts confirmed that Harlequin has intensified its investigation into prior art and believes Harlequin will be able to successfully claim that at least two of the three EFI patents should be invalidated. "With only 2 years remaining on the 'Schreiber patent,' which is the core of EFI's intellectual property, EFI clearly is concerned about maintaining the validity of its other patents," he stated. "In light of EFI's recent actions against Harlequin's customers, it is our opinion that EFI is accelerating its attempts to uphold its patents at any cost, even when it knows that the claims are unfounded." Volckaerts vowed that "Harlequin will continue to fully support its products, protect its OEM customers, and vigorously defend its rights in this litigation." The original complaint filed by EFI on November 6, 1998 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California claimed that three of Harlequin's products, Harlequin(R) ScriptWorks(R), Harlequin Full Color System(TM) (HFCS(TM)), and Harlequin ICC Profile Processor(TM) (HIPP(TM)), infringe three patents owned by EFI. The three patents were: US Patent No. 4,500,919 (commonly known as the "Schreiber patent"), US Patent No. 4,941,038 (originally issued to Eric Walowit), and US Patent No. 5,212,546 (issued to Efraim Arazi). Shortly after filing the original complaint, EFI acknowledged that ScriptWorks was named in the case only to the extent that it enabled use of HFCS and HIPP. In its most recent letters to Harlequin OEMs, EFI has changed its position without explanation. With a large and growing base of OEM partners, Harlequin is recognized worldwide as a leading supplier of open systems-based software for digital printing and publishing applications. Established in 1986 and acquired in July 1999 by Global Graphics (EASDAQ: GLGR), Harlequin has grown into an international software company with world-class expertise in high quality digital printing and publishing technologies. For more information about the company, please visit Harlequin's Web site at www.harlequin.com. Harlequin and ScriptWorks are registered trademarks and Harlequin Full Color System, HFCS, Harlequin ICC Profile Processor, and HIPP are trademarks of Harlequin Limited. All other brand or product names are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Harlequin makes no warranty and accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising from the use of information or particulars in this document.
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