Arctic Cat left the personal watercraft business long ago, but last week the company was awarded $15.5 million after winning a lawsuit against Sea-Doo’s parent company BRP. The claim alleged that Sea-Doo’s jet propulsion infringed on a design invented by Arctic Cat. Interestingly, the Arctic Cat design was never brought to market before the company shut down its PWC operations soon after the turn of the century. Here is a press release about the court decision.
SEATTLE (June 2, 2016) – A Florida jury sided with Hagens Berman client Arctic Cat, finding that the defendants willfully infringed two Arctic Cat patents and awarding damages of approximately $15.5 million. The verdict was handed down in a patent-infringement suit filed by Arctic Cat against Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (TSE: BBD.B) and BRP U.S. Inc. alleging that the makers of the Sea-Doo jet propulsion personal watercraft (PWC) committed willful infringement.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleged that the companies marketed, promoted, offered for sale, sold and distributed Sea-Doo personal watercraft that infringe patents owned by competitor Arctic Cat.
In the verdict issued on June 1, 2016, the jury unanimously sided with Arctic Cat, finding that the defendants infringed all claims in question on two of the company’s patents.
“We are incredibly pleased that the facts of this case were clear to the jury and that Arctic Cat today protected the IP it owns,” said Nicholas Boebel of Hagens Berman, lead counsel for Arctic Cat. “Arctic Cat worked hard to develop and protect its intellectual property and today its fight for the rights of its original and novel inventions has paid off.”
Hagens Berman co-counseled with Kutak Rock LLP on the suit.
“We are very pleased with the jury’s findings, and all the hard work that they put into analyzing the factual issues in this case, said Aaron Myers, a partner at Kutak Rock. “We believe the jury reached the right outcome based on the evidence that was presented at trial.”
The suit concerned a long-standing safety concern in the PWC industry: the inability to steer a PWC once the throttle is released, as is common in emergency situations, particularly for inexperienced riders. According to the complaint, Arctic Cat was responsible for originally developing a novel and effective off-throttle thrust mechanism to make PWC safer. The technology provides riders with temporary “steerable thrust” when the rider turns in off-throttle situations to help prevent fatalities and injuries from collisions. Arctic Cat representatives demonstrated the technology to the Coast Guard, representatives of BRP and others in the PWC industry in 1999 and 2000.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Arctic Cat patents for its novel off-throttle steering technology, entitled “Controlled Thrust Steering System for Watercraft.”