Carrying cases to hold LDS scripture are the subject of a $500,000-plus fraud suit filed in U.S. District Court.

The action by Del F. Gardner, 1027 Douglas St., names as defendant Duane S. Crowther and Horizon Publishers and Distributors Inc., both of Bountiful.Gardner manufactures and sells book storage and carrying cases designed for volumes of church scripture. So do the defendants, the suit says. It lists Crowther as an officer and director of Horizon.

It says that in March 1986, defendants had filed an application for a patent for the cases, "claiming an invention entitled `Multiple Book Storage and Carrying Cases.' " In May 1986, Deseret Book Co. submitted specifications for book containers for LDS literature to both Gardner and the defendants, inviting bids to supply cases.

Deseret Book selected Gardner and decided to place an initial three-month order for $21,826 worth of cases, intending to place additional orders as needed, the suit says.

But when the defendants learned that the contract was awarded to Gardner, the action adds, they "undertook to disrupt the business relationship" by claiming their patent interest in the cases was infringed by Gardner.

The defendants eventually received a patent for the cases, the suit says.

The January 1987 issue of VISTAS, a publication of Horizon, included a notice that the patent was awarded and all 16 facets of the Horizon book cases "are now fully protected."

The suit claims the patent was based on a misrepresentation that "prior art" didn't already exist, the suit says. Defendants committed "fraud on the United States Patent and Trademark Office," it continues. The patent is thus invalid, it asserts.