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Kim v. Green Tea Ideas, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

March 6, 2018

CHAN SOO KIM and XTENPLUS INTERNATIONAL, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
GREEN TEA IDEAS, INC., Defendant.

          OPINION

          JOHN A. GIBNEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The plaintiffs, Chan Soo Kim and Xtenplus International, Inc. ("Xtenplus"), sued Green Tea Ideas, Inc. ("GTI"), for infringing Claim 10 of United States Patent No. 7, 461, 662 ("662 Patent"), entitled "Hair Clip." GTI moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' amended complaint. The plaintiffs have not adequately pled which features of the allegedly infringing hair clips correspond to the limitations in the 662 Patent or how those features infringe the patent. The Court will therefore dismiss the amended complaint, but will grant the plaintiffs leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 9, 2008, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued the 662 Patent, listing Chan Soo Kim as the inventor. Plaintiff Xtenplus holds the exclusive license to the patent. Claim 10 of the 662 Patent, at issue in this case, reads as follows:

         10. A hair clip comprising:

a lower clip piece;
an upper clip piece connected to said lower clip piece through a pivot connection that has a hinge pin and a coil spring, said upper clip piece having a bottom portion that defines a concavity portion for use in defining a hair holding space to hold the hair of a user in a bundled state;
a finger connected to said upper clip piece through a pivot connection, said finger used for holding the hair of the user in a bundled state; and
a guide loop connected to a rear end portion of said finger through a pivot connection, said guide loop used for preventing hair from entering a joint portion defined by said finger and said upper clip piece;
wherein said upper clip piece defines a hold eye, and wherein the rear end portion of said guide loop is located in said hold eye for use in preventing hair from entering the joint portion of said finger and said upper clip piece.

(Am. Compl., Exh. 1, at 13.) When a user opens the hair clip, the clip holds the hair in a "holding space, and the finger and the guide loop are moved as a link mechanism." (Am. Compl., at ¶ 11.) The clip prevents hair in a "bundled state" from entering the joint portion, as described in Claim 10.[1]

         GTI, Everglory Creations, Inc. ("Everglory"), Fromm International ("Fromm"), and Drybar Holding LLC ("Drybar"), form a "stream of commerce" involving the allegedly infringing hair clips ("Accused Product"), advertised as the "Drybar Hold Me Hair Clips." (Am. Compl., at ¶¶ 10, 14.) On October 27, 2010, Mr. Kim and his company, Saebum Beauty, entered into a licensing agreement with Xtenplus, Everglory, and YUCK Corporation.[2] On September 27, 2012, Mr. Kim and Saebum Beauty signed another licensing agreement with Everglory.

         In October 2016, Everglory represented it would stop manufacturing and selling the Accused Product, including to GTI, but later asserted it had a license and would continue to sell. On December 13, 2016, Xtenplus and Saebum Beauty sent a letter to Everglory, stating Everglory did not have distribution rights and had breached the licensing agreements. The letter also purported to terminate both agreements. Everglory then sent a letter to Xtenplus and Saebum Beauty on April 12, 2017, purporting to terminate both licensing agreements for breach of contract. This letter also stated that the 662 Patent did not cover Everglory's hair clips.

         Before ruling on GTI's motion to dismiss the complaint, the Court granted the plaintiffs leave to amend. In their amended complaint, the plaintiffs allege that GTI uses, imports, sells, or offers for sale the Accused Product in the United States, and that GTI induces customers in the United States to use the Accused Product, causing those customers to ...


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