Court rules that BRP willfully infringed Arctic Cat’s patents on safety technology
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] federal court judge for the Southern District of Florida (Miami) has awarded Arctic Cat Inc. triple damages of $46.7 million USD in a patent-infringement suit filed by the company against Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. and BRP U.S. Inc.
Initially, a jury awarded Arctic Cat just over $15 million USD on June 1, 2016, after unanimously finding that the defendants willfully infringed all asserted claims in two of Arctic Cat’s patents for an innovative off-throttle assisted steering technology.
Arctic Cat’s technology is a safety mechanism designed to prevent on-water collisions and accidents in personal watercraft (PWC). The federal judge tripled the damages in the case, due to the makers of the Sea-Doo jet propulsion PWC committing willful infringement.
The suit concerned a long-standing safety concern in the PWC industry: the inability to steer PWC once the throttle is released, which can occur in emergency situations, particularly for inexperienced riders. Arctic Cat developed 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. The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Arctic Cat patents for this off-throttle steering technology, entitled “Controlled Thrust Steering System for Watercraft.”
[pullquote]“We are very pleased with today’s court ruling. The jury and federal court judge found that each of our patents in this case were valid, and agreed that BRP willfully infringed on our patents over the course of many years,” said Christopher Metz, Arctic Cat’s president and CEO.[/pullquote]
At issue in the case were 151,790 model year 2009 through 2015 Sea-Doo personal watercraft. These models infringed 10 claims of Arctic Cat’s U.S. Patent Numbers 6,793,545 (“the ‘545 Patent”) and 6,568,969 (“the ‘969 Patent”).
Nicholas Boebel of the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and Aaron Myers, Niall MacLeod and Diane Peterson, co-counsel at Kutak Rock LLP, represented Arctic Cat at trial.
BRP has released a statement saying it believes the decision is unfounded and intends to file an appeal.