On March 30, 2011, Simmons Bedding Co. and The Simmons Manufacturing Co., LLC (collectively "Simmons") brought a declaratory judgment action against Leggett & Platt, Inc. and L&P Property Management Co. (collectively "L&G") seeking a declaration that Simmons does not infringe L&G's patent, U.S. Patent No. 5,868,383 ("the '383 patent") titled "Multiple Rate Coil Spring Assembly."

In its complaint, Simmons alleges that L&G has threatened suit over the '383 for Simmons' sale of products incorporating a spring marketed as the SMART RESPONSE coil. Claim 1 of the '383 patent states:

  1.  An automated method for the manufacture of a coil spring assembly comprising inserting coil springs into respective individual pockets of a continuous pocket strip in a predetermined order wherein at least one of said coil springs has predetermined multiple spring rates.

Simmons is seeking a declaration for noninfringement and invalidity of the '383 patent. The case is Civil Action No. 11-cv-232 (W.D. Wis.).

The choice of venue, the Western District of Wisconsin, is interesting. While Simmons is based in Georgia, and L&G in Carthage, MO, the choice of the W.D. Wisconsin suggests Simmons wants to fast track the litigation. Venues with "rocket dockets" such as W.D. Wisconsin and the E.D. Virginia are traditionally chosen by plaintiffs asserting infringement. The selection of a rocket docket by a declaratory judgment plaintiff signals a new use of those venues to absolve a business from potential patent infringement liability.