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Hi-Tech Pharmacal sued over package markings

Amityville-based Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co. Inc. has been hit with a lawsuit that alleges it violated the false marking statute, the federal law that strictly regulates the use of the word "patent" on an item for sale.

Hi-Tech Pharmacal disclosed the lawsuit Monday in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The suit was filed March 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and named several other companies as defendants.

The plaintiff in this case is a private company, San Francisco Technology Inc.

The complaint alleges that Hi-Tech Pharmacal "falsely marked the packaging of a product with regard to patents that had expired. The product was marketed by Hi-Tech's health care products division under the Zostrix Neuropathy brand."

According to Zostrix.com it is a subsidiary of Hi-Tech Pharmacal and sells diabetic foot pain cream and other pain-relief skin creams. The products are sold at retail outlets, including Walgreens, CVS, Kmart, Stop & Shop and Rite Ai, the company's Web site says.

Hi-Tech Pharmacal said Monday that it had not been formally served with the complaint and therefore the company had not filed an answer.

"The company intends to defend against such allegations and believes it has meritorious defenses," the SEC filing said. It's too soon for the company to estimate "its potential exposure and [it] cannot, at this time, predict the outcome of such action."

Penalties include fines of no more than $500 per item sold, and any monetary judgments are shared between the plaintiff and the U.S. government.

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