Home Construction ECCO III accused of patent infringement on I-95 ‘Last Mile’ project

ECCO III accused of patent infringement on I-95 ‘Last Mile’ project

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ECCO III Enterprises Inc. of Yonkers is allegedly using precast pavement slabs on the $136 million I-95 “Last Mile” project that violate the inventor’s patent.

The Fort Miller Co. sued ECCO III and Binghamton Precast & Supply Corp. for patent infringement on Nov. 6 in federal court in White Plains.

“Both ECCO III and Binghamton,” the complaint states, “continue to infringe the (Fort Miller) patent.”

ECCO III and Binghamton Precast & Supply did not reply to email messages asking for their side of the story.

Fort Miller, based in Schuylerville, New York, holds several patents on its Super-Slab precast pavement.  The interlocking slabs feature a sealed cavity that can be filled with various materials and they are manufactured to fit a road’s precise shapes.

Precast pavement lasts longer than traditional road surfaces, according to Fort Miller’s website, are easy to install and can be used more quickly once they are in place.

The lawsuit concerns one of Fort Miller’s 13 patents, describing how the slab is formed and installed.

Peter J. Smith, vice president of marketing development and project engineering, invented the technology, was awarded the patent in 2005 and assigned it to the company.

Fort Miller has supplied Super-Slabs to Ecco on previous projects, according to the lawsuit, and was trying to close a deal on a new project.

the last mile patent precast pavement
Super-Slab panels were used in the restoration of 7.2 miles of I-95 several years ago. Photo courtesy of The Fort Miller Co.

Last year, the New York State Thruway Authority was taking bids to rebuild the so-called Last Mile section of the New England Thruway (I-95), from Port Chester to the Connecticut state line, including several bridges and a ramp to the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287).

ECCO III submitted the winning bid.

At that point, only two companies had been approved in New York as suppliers of pre-fabricated pavement slabs: Fort Miller and another that is not identified in the complaint.

Fort Miller quoted ECCO III $2.9 million for 402 Super-Slabs, each weighing from 11 to 13.25 tons and measuring 11 to 13 inches thick, 14 feet wide and 11.33 feet long.

ECCO III gave Fort Miller “indications” that it would be the supplier, according to the complaint, and during negotiations the company disclosed confidential information about its Super-Slabs.

Fort Miller claims that ECCO III was delaying, using negotiations to give Binghamton time to get state approval for its Quick Slabs product.

Binghamton submitted drawings to the New York Department of Transportation that Fort Miller alleges are similar to the Super-Slab features and method of installation.

The DOT approved the Quick Slabs drawings Jan. 28 and authorized Binghamton as a supplier of prefabricated pavement slabs in New York.

Now ECCO III is using Quick Slabs on the Last Mile project, according to the lawsuit.

“ECCO III and Binghamton have sold, offered for sale, licensed, distributed or practiced the Quick Slab product,” the complaint alleges, “infringing the (Fort Miller) patent.”

Fort Miller is asking the court to find that its patent was infringed, direct ECCO III and Binghamton to stop infringing, and to award unspecified damages.

Fort Miller is represented by Anthony L. Meola, of Schmeiser, Olsen & Watts LLP of  Purchase.

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