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Court ruling ends battle between Eaton and Parker in hydraulic connector business

Cleveland, OH -- The U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., has granted a permanent injunction against Parker Han...


Cleveland, OH — The U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., has granted a permanent injunction against Parker Hannifin Corp. regarding an Eaton Corp. patent for an innovative Snap-to-Connect (STC) technology used in high-pressure hydraulic applications.

The Nov. 18, 2003, ruling prohibits Parker from manufacturing, marketing or selling its Generation II and Generation III Perma Push connectors and any colourable variations of them. In fact, Parker has already discontinued the products.

Additionally, the court confirmed that two other related Eaton patents are also valid and enforceable. Eaton filed the patent infringement suit against Parker on Aug. 15, 2000. Eaton’s patented Snap-to-Connect technology has numerous applications for mobile and industrial equipment.

In response, Parker Hannifin issued a statement to clear up any potential misunderstandings about the outcome of Eaton’s patent litigation against Parker.

“The Nov. 18 ruling referenced in the Eaton news release stems from a trial held in Feb. 2003, involving a patent suit filed by Eaton over a hydraulic coupling for special mobile applications,” said Parker.

“Eaton’s suit involved three patents encompassing 80 separate claims. Parker prevailed outright in the claims for all three patents covering all current Parker products. For one discontinued Parker product, Eaton prevailed in three of 80 patent claims.

“In court, Eaton sought $3 million to pay attorneys’ fees incurred for a ruling of less than $50,000 in damages. The court denied Eaton’s $3 million request on the basis that Parker acted in good faith, and did not copy Eaton’s product.

“The outcome of the case was that Parker maintained its right to sell its own patented technology, including products improved with a safety feature to prevent accidental disconnects. Parker agreed to pay the damages amounting to less than $50,000 to bring closure to the matter.”

Parker says that none of its products will need to be removed from the market as a result of this ruling. Parker offers hundreds of different styles of quick-connect couplings, as well as customizable options, for mobile and industrial customers.

“We are very pleased that the court validated Eaton’s patents and that Parker’s Perma Push product will no longer be able to infringe upon our patented technology,” said Jeff Finch, director of marketing for Eaton hydraulics.

“Eaton remains committed to providing our customers and industry with game-changing technologies and to protecting the investments we make in the design, development and deployment of these technologies.”

With annual sales of $6.4 billion, Parker Hannifin calls itself the “world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for a wide variety of commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets.” For more information, visit the company’s web site at www.parker.com.

Eaton Corporation calls itself “a global diversified industrial manufacturer.” It had 2002 sales of $7.2 billion. Its product lines include fluid power systems; electrical power quality, distribution and control; automotive engine air management and fuel economy; and intelligent systems for fuel economy and safety in trucks. For more information, visit www.eaton.com.