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MercAsia USA, Ltd. v. Zhu

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

November 13, 2017

MERCASIA USA, LTD., Plaintiff,
v.
JIANQING ZHU and 3BTECH, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JON E. DEGUILIO JUDGE

         Plaintiff MercAsia USA, Ltd. is seeking a preliminary injunction in this patent infringement action. MercAsia holds a patent for a device that can attach to the top of a wine bottle and that, with the push of a button, will aerate and dispense the wine into a glass. MercAsia markets its version of the patented device under the name Aervana. In this action, MercAsia asserts that a competing device, which performs a similar function and is marketed under the name Waerator, infringes on its patent. It sued 3BTech, Inc., which sells the Waerator, and its owner, Jianqing “Johnny” Zhu, [1] and it now seeks a preliminary injunction barring any sales or marketing of the Waerator pending the conclusion of this action.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court denies the preliminary injunction. The defendants have raised a substantial question as to whether the Waerator infringes the patent, so MercAsia has not adequately shown at this stage that it is likely to succeed on the merits. In addition, MercAsia's allegations of irreparable harm are too conclusory to justify the extraordinary remedy of preliminarily enjoining the defendants' sales of a competing product. Thus, the Court finds that a preliminary injunction is not warranted.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff MercAsia is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 7, 882, 986, entitled “liquid dispenser.” The patented device can attach to the top of a bottle, such as a wine bottle, and will dispense the wine into a glass with the push of a button. In particular, the device contains a pump that, when activated by pushing a button on top of the device, pumps air into the bottle. The air pressure then forces the wine up a straw that extends from the device to the bottom of the bottle, and the wine travels up the straw and out a spout that extends to the side of the device. Releasing the button turns off the pump and also allows the pressure inside the bottle to be released, which ceases the dispensing of the wine. The following diagrams from the patent show the device attached to the top of a bottle, and show a close-up cross section of the device itself:

         (Image Omitted)

         [DE 27-2].

         The patent includes one independent claim, Claim 1, and a number of dependent claims, though only Claim 1 is at issue here. Claim 1 reads as follows (with the disputed terms in italics):

1. A liquid dispenser being mounted in a container having a top, a bottom and a mouth, and the liquid dispenser comprising
a shell being hollow, being adapted to be mounted on the mouth at the top of the container and having
a bottom;
a top end;
an injection tube being formed on and protruding longitudinally from the bottom of the shell and having
an internal surface;
an external surface;
an upper end; and
a discharge tube being formed longitudinally on the internal surface of the injection tube and having
a top end; and
a bottom end; and
multiple air ports being formed through the shell between the bottom and the ...

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