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Smart Vent, Inc. v. Crawl Space Door System Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

October 31, 2017

SMART VENT, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CRAWL SPACE DOOR SYSTEM INC., d/b/a CRAWL SPACE DOOR SYSTEMS, INC., Defendant.

          Anthony J. DiMarino, III, Esq. Emmett S. Collazo, Esq. A.J. DIMARINO, III, PC Counsel for Plaintiff

          Michael N. Onufrak, Esq. Siobhan Katherine Cole, Esq. WHITE & WILLIAMS, LLP Counsel for Defendant

          OPINION

          JEROME B. SIMANDLE, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In this patent infringement and unfair competition action, Plaintiff Smart Vent, Inc. (hereinafter, “Plaintiff” or “Smart Vent”) moves for partial summary judgment and for a permanent injunction against Defendant Crawl Space Door System Inc. (hereinafter, “Defendant” or “CSD”), because Crawl Space “falsely” advertises its flood vents as conforming to TB-1 and the NFIP Insurance Manual. Thus, the primary issue addressed is whether CSD falsely advertised its flood vents as TB-1 compliant. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment and for a permanent injunction will be granted.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court thoroughly described the relevant background of this case in Smart Vent Products, Inc. v. Crawl Space Door System, Inc., No. 13-5691, 2016 WL 4408818 2-*4 (D.N.J. Aug. 16, 2016), and need not repeat it here. As relevant here, the Court previously (1) granted Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings to the extent it concerned Plaintiff's allegations of FEMA and NFIP Compliance and patent protection, and (2) denied it to the extent it concerned Plaintiff's allegations of TB-1 Compliance and the trademark related issues. Id. Now, Smart Vent moves for partial summary judgment and for a permanent injunction against Defendant Crawl Space Door System Inc., (hereinafter, “Defendant” or “CSD”) because Crawl Space “falsely” advertises its vents as conforming to TB-1 and the NFIP Insurance Manual. As discussed herein, pursuant to the Court's previous decisions, [1] the Court will only consider Plaintiff's claims with regard to whether or not CSD falsely advertises its flood vents as “TB-1 compliant.”

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Alabama v. North Carolina, 560 U.S. 330, 344 (2010) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). Stated differently, “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, ” the Court may grant summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the material facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and must make every reasonable inference in that party's favor. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007); Halsey v. Pfeiffer, 750 F.3d 273, 287 (3d Cir. 2014). An inference based upon “‘speculation or conjecture, '” however, “‘does not create a material factual dispute sufficient to defeat summary judgment.'” Halsey, 750 F.3d at 287 (citations omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must support each essential element with concrete record evidence. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         B. Permanent Injunctive Relief Standard

         A permanent injunction is proper, where the prevailing plaintiff demonstrates:

(1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury;
(2) that the remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, prove inadequate to compensate for that injury;

(3) that the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant favor equitable relief; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.

Chanel, Inc. v. Matos, 133 F.Supp.3d 678, 689 (D.N.J. 2015) (permanently enjoining Lanham Act violations)

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Smart Vent's Unfair Competition Claim

         Smart Vent argues that the undisputed facts establish that CSD falsely markets its louvered flood vents as conforming to TB-1 and the NFIP Insurance Manual, and as “Engineered” Flood Vents that allow reductions in Flood Insurance Premiums. [Pl. Br. at 4-19.] Put differently, Plaintiff argues that “since [Defendant's] louvered flood vents fail to conform to the requirements and guidelines set forth in TB-1 and the NFIP Insurance Manual's Lowest Floor Guide, [Defendant's] marketing statements that its louvered flood vents will allow consumers to lower their flood insurance premiums are literally false as a matter of law.” (Id. at 16.) In response to Plaintiff's assertions, CSD generally argues that the Court already rejected Plaintiff's central argument when the Court found that “Crawl Space's approach to certification . . . comports with the facial requirements for certification under 44 C.F.R. § 60.3(c)(5), i.e., the actual binding regulations underpinning the FEMA-administered NFIP” [Def. Br. at 3.] (citing Smart Vent Prods. v. Crawl Space Door Sys., Civil Action No. 13-5691 (JBS/KMW), 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108052, at *16-19 (D.N.J. Aug. 15, 2016)). To the extent that Plaintiff's assertions rest upon the false premise that CSD cannot market its flood vents as “FEMA Compliant” because it uses ...


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