Suit claims woman had patent for two-surface court

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A South Carolina teaching pro has sued organizers of the recently concluded half-grass, half-clay tennis match between stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Renata Marcinkowska, a former WTA tour player who now lives in Rock Hill, took action against management and marketing giant IMG and two advertising firms involved in Wednesday's exhibition in Palma De Mallorca, Spain.

The suit, which does not specify damages, claims Marcinkowska invented the idea of a tennis court of differing surfaces on either side of the net, received a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November 2004 and pitched the idea to IMG soon after she got the patent.

"IMG did not express interest in the Patent at the time," according to Marcinkowska's suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Columbia.

Marcinkowska says in her suit she met with IMG in February "with the idea of having Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal on a hybrid court." Again, the suit said, IMG expressed no interest in going forward.

She learned of plans for the Federer-Nadal exhibition last month and made several calls to IMG and sent e-mails to the company to try and stop it, according to the suit.

"I'm very disappointed," Marcinkowska said by phone. "I don't want to say too much because I feel like they're a Goliath and I'm just a little David."

Nadal beat Federer 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10).

Marcinkowska's suit claims patent infringement, civil conspiracy and unfair business practices and asks for a jury trial. She did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

IMG spokesman Brian Weiss said the company hadn't seen the lawsuit and would not comment.

Marcinkowska, 42, said she came up with the idea to help players train on different surfaces. As a naturalized citizen, she also wanted to see her idea used first in the United States.

"I feel like I've been cheated," she said. "And I feel like I am not sure what will happen next."