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Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Rec. Prods.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

December 7, 2017, Decided

2017-1475

Opinion

 [*1356]  [***1887]   Moore, Circuit Judge.

Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. and BRP U.S. Inc. (collectively, "BRP") appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida's denial of judgment as a matter of law that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,568,969 ("'969 patent") and 6,793,545 ("'545 patent") would have been obvious, that Arctic Cat Inc. ("Arctic Cat") failed [**2]  to mark patented products, that the jury's royalty award was based on improper expert testimony, and that BRP did not willfully infringe the asserted claims. BRP also appeals the  [*1357]  district court's decision to treble damages and its award of an ongoing royalty to Arctic Cat. We affirm the district court's denial of judgment as a matter of law as to obviousness, the jury's royalty rate, and willfulness. We affirm the district court's decision to treble damages and award an ongoing royalty to Arctic Cat. We vacate the court's denial of judgment as a matter of law as to marking and remand for further consideration limited to that issue.

Background

The '969 and '545 patents disclose a thrust steering system for personal watercraft ("PWC") propelled by jet stream. This type of watercraft is propelled by discharging water out of a discharge nozzle at the rear of the watercraft. E.g., '545 patent at 1:22-24. The rider controls the thrust of water out of the discharge nozzle by pressing a lever mounted on the steering handle. Id. at 1:38-40. A sufficient amount of thrust out of the steering nozzle is required for these watercraft to steer properly because decreasing the thrust of the water out of the discharge nozzle decreases [**3]  the steering capability of the watercraft. Id. at 1:34-36, 1:51-55.

Because steering capabilities are affected by the amount of thrust applied, the patents explain that, to avoid obstacles at high speed, riders should apply constant pressure on the throttle lever while simultaneously turning the steering handle away from the obstacle. Id. at 1:59-61. This is counter-intuitive to inexperienced riders who often slow down to turn out of the way. Id. at 1:55-65. In these situations a rider may not be able to avoid the obstacle because steering capability has been decreased. Id. at 1:65-67. The patents seek to overcome this issue by automatically providing thrust when riders turn the steering system. Id. at 2:11-27. Claim 15 of the '545 patent is representative:

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876 F.3d 1350 *; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24700 **; 124 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 1885 ***

ARCTIC CAT INC., Plaintiff-Appellee v. BOMBARDIER RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS INC., BRP U.S. INC., Defendants-Appellants

Subsequent History: On remand at, Summary judgment granted by, Motion denied by, Motion denied by, As moot Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Rec. Prods., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134898 (S.D. Fla., Aug. 10, 2018)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Bombardier Rec. Prods. v. Arctic Cat Inc., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 4710 (U.S., Oct. 1, 2018)

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in No. 0:14-cv-62369-BB, Judge Beth Bloom.

Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Rec. Prods., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1607 (S.D. Fla., Jan. 3, 2017)

Disposition: AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

patent, steering, district court, marking, infringement, patentee, products, skilled, invention, artisan, combine, thrust, off-throttle, damages, Challenger, matter of law, argues, substantial evidence, royalty, notice, ongoing, prior art, motivation, reapplication, willfulness, compliance, reasons, teach, alleged infringer, asserted claim

Evidence, Weight & Sufficiency, Patent Law, Jurisdiction & Review, Standards of Review, Substantial Evidence, Nonobviousness, Nonobviousness, Elements & Tests, Prior Art, Graham Test, Teaching Away From Invention, Remedies, Damages, Infringement Actions, Defenses, Marking, Burdens of Proof, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Abuse of Discretion, Admissibility, Expert Witnesses, Daubert Standard, Trials, Jury Trials, Province of Court & Jury, Damages, Patentholder Losses, Reasonable Royalties, Preponderance of Evidence, Measure of Damages, De Novo Review, Jury Instructions, Objections, Business & Corporate Compliance, Patent Law, Infringement Actions