Parker West International, LLC (PWI) is a Santa Rosa, California company that provides environmentally-compliant industrial and commercial cleaning services.Â PWI cleansÂ nasty hydrocarbon and metallic contaminants,Â including oil, grease, heavy metals, diesel fuels andÂ latex paints, using its patented “closed loop” waste treatment system (all contained in the pretty truck pictured above and shown in theÂ drawing below).Â
U.S. Patent No. 5,979,012 (‘012 patent) is directed to a mobile waste treatment system including a wastewater treatment unit and a steam cleaning unit.Â The system, housed in a truck or trailer,Â sprays steam onto a contaminated surface.Â The steam condenses and emulsifies the surface contaminants, which are vacuumed up in the form of contaminated water and pumpedÂ to theÂ steam cleaning unit on the truck and then piped to the wastewater treatment unit.Â Â
The wastewater treatment unit churns the contaminated water with a clay-based flocculantÂ (a chemical that cause particles suspended in solution to come out as flakes).Â The sludge that separates out is deposited on a porous cloth on draining trays, and the drained water is re-used in the steam cleaning unit.Â An important advantage of this system is that it provides on-site separation of solid and liquid waste, which facilitates environmentally-friendly disposal.
Last month PWI sued Clean Up America, Inc.Â (CUA), aÂ Virginia-based cleaningÂ equipment maker,Â in federal court in San Francisco for alleged infringement of the ‘012 patent, breach of contract, fraud andÂ interference with business advantage.Â According to the complaint (parkerwestcomplaint.pdf), in 2003 PWIÂ grantedÂ CUA a non-exclusive license to use and sell PWI’s patented technology.Â CUA was obligated to pay a royalty for such use and sale.Â The agreement also gaveÂ PWI certain rights to sell its clay-based flocculants to CUA customers.
PWI alleges that CUA owes royalties on products and services it sold under the agreementÂ and that CUA continues to sell and offer products and services that incorporate the technology of the ‘012 patent even though the agreement expired in 2006.Â PWI is seeking damages and a court order enjoining CUA from engaging in infringing activity.
The fraud claim asserts, without any factual support, that CUA intentionally misrepresented its intent to pay PWI for use of the patented technology.Â The federal rules of civil procedure require that a fraud claim be pleaded with particularity, so this claim could get tossed if PWI doesn’t amend its complaint to provide more detail.