CHICAGO - The United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, upheld a ruling made by federal judge David Hamilton that allows Eco Manufacturing (Lebanon, Ind.) to move forward with the manufacturing and distribution of its EcoStat round thermostat during the pendency of its lawsuit. According to the company, the EcoStat X-15 is a circular thermostat that is mercury-free, features a backlit display, and will retail for less than Honeywell's model.

Co-owners Bill Daniels and Steven Peabody said they are pleased by the decision. "It is a sweet victory and affirms what we have believed all along," stated Daniels.

The dispute began nearly a year ago after Eco unveiled its new circular thermostat at a trade show. Honeywell responded with an immediate request for Eco to cease and desist. Eco then sued Honeywell, seeking a declaratory judgment. Honeywell then filed for a preliminary injunction to prevent Eco from moving forward.

Honeywell did not prevail on their motion for a preliminary injunction. In a written ruling issued June 20, 2003, Judge David Hamilton, Indianapolis division of the U.S. District Court's Southern District, issued the ruling, stating in conclusion:

"The shape of Honeywell's round thermostats cannot be protected by a valid trademark. That round shape was the subject of a long-expired utility patent. Eco and other competitors are entitled to copy that useful and functional shape so long as they do not take other steps to create the impression that their round thermostats are made by or associated with Honeywell. Accordingly, Honeywell is unlikely to prevail on the merits of its trademark claims, and its motion for a preliminary injunction is hereby denied."

Publication date: 01/12/2004