Navico weighs options after reversal of patent ruling

Posted on Written by Reagan Haynes

Navico said it is reviewing its options after a federal court overturned previous rulings that determined Garmin had infringed on Navico’s patents.

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday reversed a December 2015 finding by the International Trade Commission that Garmin had infringed Navico patents related to downscan sonar.

Specifically, the Federal Circuit ruled in a 17-page decision that two of Navico’s patents were invalid and that Garmin’s DownVü sonar does not infringe a third Navico patent, ending what Garmin called a “vicious patent war” against the company.

“Obviously, we are disappointed in the appellate court’s decision following four rulings in Navico’s favor on this matter,” Navico CEO Leif Ottosson said in a statement issued today. “As a result, we are analyzing this particular determination, and we are currently reviewing our options for moving forward.”

Prior to the appellate court’s reversal, the International Trade Commission had ruled that Garmin’s products featuring tilted DownVü scanning sonar technology infringed Navico’s patents, and that Garmin violated cease-and-desist orders issued in 2015, recommending a fine of $37 million.

That was backed up earlier this month by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Regardless, the Federal Circuit’s decision not only reverses the ITC’s original orders, but also supersedes all related rulings by U.S. Customs and the ITC, including an initial determination that Garmin should be subject to a $37 million fine for selling DownVü products.

Now the company is free to import and sell any and all sonar products in the United States for the first time in a year.

“The Federal Circuit’s sweeping decision, finding that Navico’s downscan technology was an obvious modification of old sonar systems, puts an end to Navico’s unfounded and vicious patent war against Garmin,” Garmin vice president and general counsel Andrew Etkind said in a statement issued by Garmin on Tuesday. “Not only does the Federal Circuit’s decision eliminate the ongoing disputes at the ITC, it renders Navico’s other lawsuits in Oklahoma and Texas without merit.”

“This ruling confirms our strong belief that Navico’s patent claims were not supported by the facts,” Garmin CEO Cliff Pemble said. “Despite Navico’s flood of lawsuits, and harassment of Garmin’s dealers, distributors and customers, the industry stood by us during this difficult and unnecessary fight, and for that we are extremely grateful. We look forward to a great 2017 filled with exciting new Garmin products.”

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