Wal-Mart Summary Judgment Against Manufacturer Thrown Out

Pool industry manufacturer Solar Sun Rings has won a round in its legal battle with retail giant Wal-Mart. On Oct. 31, Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge, denied Wal-Mart’s motion for summary judgment in the case Solar Sun Rings, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 

The ongoing litigation centers around a claim by Solar Sun Rings that Wal-Mart has violated its patent.

According to the plaintiff, President and CEO Lora Rosene, Solar Sun Rings, Inc. was asked by a Florida-based aboveground pool manufacturer to partner in a combined product. Together they would manufacture a small, inexpensive above ground pool with Solar Sun Rings included in the package to provide solar heat for the pool. 

The concept pool was offered to Wal-Mart. While the major retailer declined the combination package, they approached Rosene about retailing the Solar Sun Ring as a standalone item. She turned down the offer. 

“Wal-Mart would be able to undercut all the small retailers across the US, which would eliminate the core of my business,” Rosene says. “It would also be another hit in this down economy to the 600 Mom and Pop pool stores that have carried my products for years.”

The following year, Wal-Mart test-marketed their copy of the Solar Sun Rings — all while knowing the Solar Sun Ring was protected by multiple patents, Rosene says. Eventually, Wal-Mart began stocking their version of the Solar Sun Ring under a different SKU. 

With this victory for Rosene, the case now moves to trial. 

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