More Ripken Baseball Camps Added to Complaint in Patent Infringement Fight
A Maryland federal court on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, granted Zito LLC, a company suing Cal Ripken Jr.’s baseball camps, a chance to amend its complaint against the retired player’s camps over patent infringement, finding that adding four more Ripken-owned camps would not prejudice the company. The Ripken camps had argued that the amendment would be made in bad faith because they allege the additional parties are unrelated and the additions were made as a work-around for an inability to change the theory of infringement. They argued that Zito’s decision to include the new camps was “predicated on an internet search using the word ‘Ripken,'” and were not found during discovery as Zito claimed. The four additional defendants are Ripken Holdings LLC, Ripken Baseball Academy LLC, Ripken Enterprises LLC and R-C Myrtle Beach LLC.
The court disagreed, stating that the Ripken camps “erroneously conflate the apparent absence of good cause with the presence of bad faith—the two are not equivalent.” The court also disagreed that adding the parties would require unnecessary additional discovery, writing in its order “it is not clear why adding ‘unrelated parties’ as defendants would subject the current defendants to additional discovery, unless they are in fact related to the proposed additional defendants.”
Zito LLC, owned by Arthur Zito Jr., claims in the suit, originally filed in June 2017, that Ripken Baseball is infringing on his patent through its use of the ‘FungoMan FM-250 Automated Baseball Practice Machine.’ Zito said his patent relates to a User-Specific Dispensing System that recognizes individual users and their preferences. Zito alleges Ripken uses the FungoMan system and identification methods at the Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, which hosts baseball and softball clinics, camps and tournaments. Zito also alleges that over the past several years, Mr. Ripken and top executives at Ripken’s companies have declined a business relationship with Zito and have instead opted to incorporate Zito’s patents into the Ripken Performance Metrics system without authorization.