Bat maker Marucci Sports sued over anti-vibration device royalties

Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A 2008 demonstration shows how vibration-dampening technology from Joel Albin could keep the bat on the right from vibrating after both bats were hit hard on the ground. Albin is suing Marucci Sports LLC, claiming the bat maker owes him royalties under a 2009 licensing agreement.
Advocate staff file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A 2008 demonstration shows how vibration-dampening technology from Joel Albin could keep the bat on the right from vibrating after both bats were hit hard on the ground. Albin is suing Marucci Sports LLC, claiming the bat maker owes him royalties under a 2009 licensing agreement.

A Livingston Parish businessman has sued business partner Marucci Sports LLC, claiming the Baton Rouge bat maker owes him royalties under a 2009 licensing agreement.

Joel Albin says Marucci licensed his bat anti-vibration device in August 2009, according to the lawsuit filed in 19th Judicial District Court. Under the agreement, Marucci was to pay Albin a minimum of $40,000 each quarter until Albin’s patents expired.

Design patents expire 14 years after the date they’re granted, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademarks last as long as the owner continues to register them.

Albin received the patent on March 23, 2004, according to the Patent and Trademark Office.

In the lawsuit, Albin says Marucci didn’t make the quarterly payment for April 30, and the company no longer sells or markets any aluminum bats using Albin’s invention.

Marucci told Albin those bats didn’t meet new NCAA standards and could not be used in any NCAA baseball games. But Albin said none of the Marucci bats the NCAA tested in 2012, including Albin’s, could be certified under the new regulations.

Albin says Marucci was “grossly negligent” because of that, and the company’s negligence led to lost profits and/or lost royalty payments. The lawsuit says Marucci’s negligence also damaged the name and reputation of Albin’s company, Albin Athletics LLC.

Albin has asked a judge to force Marucci to continue making the minimum royalty payments; to pay for any lost profits and/or royalties; and to pay for any damages to Albin Athletics’ name and reputation.

Marucci Sports spokeswoman Erin Reynaud said partnerships are a two-way street.

“We have made multiple attempts to reach out to and work with Mr. Albin on a solution. Unfortunately, he chose to go down the legal route, so our legal team will review the complaint and proceed accordingly,” Reynaud said.

Albin also is alleging that Marucci engaged in “unfair and deceptive practices,” violating Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

If the court agrees, Albin could receive penalties of triple the actual damages as well as attorney fees.

Christopher Whittington, one of Albin’s attorneys, said he could not discuss his client’s negotiations with Marucci.

“He worked hard for his patents, and this is a very unfortunate end to something that could have been very lucrative for both sides,” Whittington said.