Marketed as the "World's First 100% Flat Multi-Tool," the Wallet Ninja...

Marketed as the "World's First 100% Flat Multi-Tool," the Wallet Ninja was the subject of a federal lawsuit over patent infringement. Credit: Wallet Ninja

A Syosset-based online retailer used the design of a popular credit card-sized Swiss Army knife-like tool, without permission, and now must pay a Manhattan-based marketing company $1.85 million in damages, according to a federal jury verdict and the plaintiff's lawyer.

Sherman Specialty, located on Eileen Way and doing business as The WowLine Inc., infringed on the design patent of the Wallet Ninja, a product sold by Dynamite Marketing with 18 tools, ranging from a bottle opener to a nail filer, a six-person jury in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District in Central Islip decided last week. 

In a separate consecutive trial before U.S. District Court Judge Gary R. Brown, the same jury ruled the patent infringement was "willful," allowing Dynamite to seek triple damages and attorney fees from Sherman for knowingly violating the law, according to court records and Michael Cukor, a New Jersey-based attorney representing the plaintiff.

"There are so many people that get their ideas ripped off," Cukor said. "And my client, who was 19 years old at the time when he came up with this [idea], really did everything right. Even at age 19, he had the foresight to hire a patent attorney, get a patent and do everything right. And when confronted with their absolute patent infringement, the defendants just didn't stop."

Attorneys for Sherman Specialty and company officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Dynamite filed suit in 2019 after WowLine began selling a product similar to the Wallet Ninja, which was created in 2013 by company founder Alex Shlaferman, court papers state.

The device, which received a patent, is described as a “multifunction hand tool comprised of screwdrivers, hex wrenches, bottle opener, can opener, peeler, cellphone stand, box opener, letter opener and ruler."

The product, which is the size of a credit card and fits into a wallet, sells for between $13 and $15.

WowLine, court papers state, repositioned some of the features on the opposite edges of the tool, used a similar name in its marketing and sold the product for several dollars cheaper, Dynamite said.

"Five years ago, one of Sherman's employees sent a photo of the wallet to three different vendors in China and said 'can you make this' and they did," Cukor said. "They made a lot of it and they sold a lot of it. And when they were informed about it being patent infringement, they didn't stop selling, because it was a good product for them. They were making a lot of money on it, because customers love it and the Wallet Ninja is a cool product."

In a 2019 countersuit, WowLine said Shlaferman's patent was invalid and the Wallet Ninja was actually created by their client, LaErik Cooper, who had worked on the original design.

The company also argued in its suit that its "products and services are not similar to those that are said by the plaintiff in its patent and trademark registration."

But mid-trial, a design expert, testifying on behalf of WowLine regarding how the two products were distinctly different, confused the two products while on the witness stand, Cukor said.

A hearing on Dynamite's request for triple damages is expected before year's end.

A Syosset-based online retailer used the design of a popular credit card-sized Swiss Army knife-like tool, without permission, and now must pay a Manhattan-based marketing company $1.85 million in damages, according to a federal jury verdict and the plaintiff's lawyer.

Sherman Specialty, located on Eileen Way and doing business as The WowLine Inc., infringed on the design patent of the Wallet Ninja, a product sold by Dynamite Marketing with 18 tools, ranging from a bottle opener to a nail filer, a six-person jury in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District in Central Islip decided last week. 

In a separate consecutive trial before U.S. District Court Judge Gary R. Brown, the same jury ruled the patent infringement was "willful," allowing Dynamite to seek triple damages and attorney fees from Sherman for knowingly violating the law, according to court records and Michael Cukor, a New Jersey-based attorney representing the plaintiff.

"There are so many people that get their ideas ripped off," Cukor said. "And my client, who was 19 years old at the time when he came up with this [idea], really did everything right. Even at age 19, he had the foresight to hire a patent attorney, get a patent and do everything right. And when confronted with their absolute patent infringement, the defendants just didn't stop."

Attorneys for Sherman Specialty and company officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Dynamite filed suit in 2019 after WowLine began selling a product similar to the Wallet Ninja, which was created in 2013 by company founder Alex Shlaferman, court papers state.

The device, which received a patent, is described as a “multifunction hand tool comprised of screwdrivers, hex wrenches, bottle opener, can opener, peeler, cellphone stand, box opener, letter opener and ruler."

The product, which is the size of a credit card and fits into a wallet, sells for between $13 and $15.

WowLine, court papers state, repositioned some of the features on the opposite edges of the tool, used a similar name in its marketing and sold the product for several dollars cheaper, Dynamite said.

"Five years ago, one of Sherman's employees sent a photo of the wallet to three different vendors in China and said 'can you make this' and they did," Cukor said. "They made a lot of it and they sold a lot of it. And when they were informed about it being patent infringement, they didn't stop selling, because it was a good product for them. They were making a lot of money on it, because customers love it and the Wallet Ninja is a cool product."

In a 2019 countersuit, WowLine said Shlaferman's patent was invalid and the Wallet Ninja was actually created by their client, LaErik Cooper, who had worked on the original design.

The company also argued in its suit that its "products and services are not similar to those that are said by the plaintiff in its patent and trademark registration."

But mid-trial, a design expert, testifying on behalf of WowLine regarding how the two products were distinctly different, confused the two products while on the witness stand, Cukor said.

A hearing on Dynamite's request for triple damages is expected before year's end.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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