Judge rules for Bunnings over Glen Dimplex in marathon court case

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Bunnings and three other defendants have won the patent case brought against them by Glen Dimplex corporate body Bitech Engineering. The case revolved around the importation of simulated fire heaters.

According to the ruling judge in the NSW federal court, Judge Foster, the heaters imported by Bunnings, Flameglow, Hot Point (Aust) and Garth Living did not infringe upon patents Bitech Engineering had taken out on its range of Glen Dimplex heaters. A decision on costs has been deferred.

The four cases, and a number of cross claims and related cases, were heard collectively, with evidence being considered across cases and vice versa. Over the course of the 3-year trial, Judge Foster heard evidence from three expert witnesses: Dr Ian Cowling for Bitech Engineering, and Professors Keith Nugent and Tayna Monro for the defence.

These witnesses testified as to whether the imported heaters infringed upon Bitech Engineering’s patents in the way heat was generated and the flame effect was simulated.

“Although the size, casing and exterior presentation of the various models of the Electric Flame Effect Heaters which I have inspected are different, I am satisfied from my inquiries that each contains an apparatus for simulating flames which is essentially the same between the various models,” said Dowling in support of the legal claims brought by Bitech Engineering.

Ultimately, however, the judge ruled against Bitech Engineering, saying that the light source from the imported heaters was emanated from a different source to the Glen Dimplex heaters, and hence not infringing upon the patent.

“On the construction of the patent which I have found, that finding means that the flame effect means in the respondents’ heaters falls outside the scope of the patent.  Therefore, the respondents have not infringed the Patent and Bitech’s claim must be dismissed,” said Judge Foster.

Current.com.au understands that a number of other defendants in this patent dispute withdrew their ranges of heaters after letters were sent from Bitech Engineering’s lawyers.

Bitech Engineering can appeal the decision.

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