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Suit: Former business partners stole idea, patent for helmet hat

Fanaticap / Phofrom Fanaticap Facebook page

Fanaticap / Photo from Fanaticap Facebook page

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Updated: June 29, 2012 5:28PM

The inventor of a hat resembling a football helmet is suing his former business partners for allegedly selling a product modeled on his design.

Dan Lanphere, inventor of the “Huddle Hat,” claims his former business partners promised to help him license and distribute his patented design but instead held his inventory hostage and filed a patent for the same design and sold a competing product called the “Fanaticap,” according to a suit filed this week in U.S. District Court.

Lanphere claims he hired Terry Schwabe, Tom Lawrence and Steve Lundgren to get licenses to sell the Huddle Hat to colleges and to work as the distribution arm of his company in 2009. Lanphere then gave the men 10,000 of his hats with the promise they would be selling them during fall 2009.

According to the suit, the men did not sell any of the hats, so Lanphere asked for them back. In response, the men “extorted” $8,000 from Lanphere before letting him take his inventory back, according to the suit.

A short time later, the men began selling the Fanaticap product and filed a patent application for the design in July 2010, according to the suit.

The five-count suit alleges the makers of the Fanaticap are committing patent fraud as well as unfair competition. Lanphere seeks damages related to competing patents and products and wants the Fanaticap patent declared invalid.

Efforts to reach the company that makes the Fanaticap were unsuccessful.

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