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Idaho man says Woonsocket man’s invention is patent infringement

IWOONSOCKET — An Idaho man claims his patent is being infringed by a Woonsocket man who developed an air filter cleaner.

The Woonsocket man, Shawn Peterson, was featured with his device, the Diesel Air Filter Cleaner, in a recent edition of The Daily Republic.

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Inventor Dennis Grieve, of Boise, Idaho, contacted The Daily Republic after reading the feature and charged Peterson’s air cleaner is a knock-off of Grieve’s own Air Filter Blaster, which is described on Grieve’s website,

Peterson denies the infringement charge. He said he developed his filter cleaner independently of Grieve’s Air Blaster and that the two devices merely coincided in development.

“Anyone can say you’re infringing on his patent, but until it gets to a court of law, it is what it is,” Peterson said. “We’ve done our due diligence and I’m comfortable with our standing. We didn’t go out and try to rob him.”

Peterson said Grieve’s name appeared among several that showed up in a patent search done by his Sioux Fall attorneys, but they felt his device was still patentable and he proceeded with product development on their advice. He has since hired new Minneapolis attorneys. There is no pending litigation at this time, he said.

Both devices, with some variations, use an air pipe with a spinning head to blow out radial air filters from the inside out.

Grieve’s Air Blaster uses an interchangeable spinning head with four air nozzles. It sells, with a 6-inch diameter rotor head included, for $349. A separate 3-inch diameter rotor head, for cleaning smaller air filters, is sold separately for $66.50.

Peterson’s Diesel Air Filter Cleaner typically retails for $350. The spinning head on the end of his device’s air pipe has three air nozzles and is sold with sets of different size tubes that can be changed as needed.

Peterson said he has applied for a patent on his product and that his application is pending final approval. The U.S. Patent Office would neither confirm nor deny Peterson’s patent application claim because confidentiality laws prevent any discussion of, or access to, patent applications until a patent application has been officially published.

The Patent Office confirmed that Grieve holds a 2010 filter cleaner patent and that a second 2013 patent, titled “An Apparatus and Method for Cleaning Air Filters,” is pending. The patent representative said that application was published Feb. 14 of this year and is considered a pending patent awaiting final approval.

Grieve claims his patent covers variations in filter cleaning devices that would include Peterson’s product.

The Patent Office representative said the office does not make any decisions on whether or not a patent has been infringed; any such conflicts must be resolved in court.

It’s not clear at this time if that’s where the clash is headed.

Grieve’s patent attorney, Alexander Pokot, of James Ray and Associates Intellectual Property, of Monroeville, Pa., said his firm sent Peterson a cease-and-desist letter stating that to avoid damages after the issuance of Grieve’s second patent, Peterson must stop making and selling his Diesel Air Filter Cleaner.

His office will not proceed with any infringement action until Grieve’s pending patent receives final approval, Pokot said, but it may consider action against Peterson for claiming he is the original inventor of the air filter cleaner.

Pokot said his office sent the cease-and-desist notice by mail, but Peterson has not responded.

Grieve said he first confronted Peterson about his device at Dakotafest 2012, an annual agricultural trade show in Mitchell where both were selling their respective filter cleaners. Peterson said the show helped to launch his product.

Grieve also had the Cass County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 11 serve the same cease-and-desist letter and copy of his patent application to Peterson at the Big Iron Farm Show in Fargo, N.D.

Peterson said that was unnecessary and was an attempt by Grieve to embarrass him and discredit his product. Grieve said he had Peterson served by the sheriff to make sure he received the documents.

Peterson insists his device is an original invention, and he plans to keep selling his product.

“It’s just unfortunate we got it done at the same time. There’s no malice involved and I’m very comfortable. I never stole his product — ever.”