Arctic Cat files patent-infringement lawsuit against BRP

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Arctic Cat filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Bombardier Recreational Products and BRP U.S. on Thursday, alleging that the makers of Sea-Doo personal watercraft infringed on Arctic Cat’s intellectual property regarding off-throttle steering.

BRP told Trade Only Today that it has not received an official copy of the lawsuit and does want not to comment until it has had a chance to review it. The company said it will vigorously defend its position and notes that it has a current patent-infringement claim against Arctic Cat in snowmobiles.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Arctic Cat was responsible for developing an off-throttle thrust mechanism to make PWC safer.

The technology provides riders with temporary “steerable thrust”when they turn in off-throttle situations to help prevent fatalities and injuries from collisions.

According to the complaint, BRP originally attempted to provide off-throttle steering with an alternative technology called “Off-Power Assisted Steering,” or OPAS, which relied on mechanical rudders in low- and off-power situations.

Ultimately, in 2009, BRP began transitioning its line of Sea-Doo PWC to “Off-Throttle Assisted Steering,”or OTAS technology that, according to the complaint, infringes the patents asserted by Arctic Cat.

“BRP determined that Arctic Cat’s OTAS technology provided enhanced rider safety and other benefits that were unavailable with BRP’s [Off-Power Assisted Steering] OPAS technology,”the suit states. “On further information and belief, BRP’s adoption of OTAS technology has helped reduce the number of avoidable injuries and deaths from operation of Sea-Doo PWCs.”

“We believe strongly in our technology,”Michael Okerlund, vice president of legal affairs at Arctic Cat, said in a statement. “Even after withdrawing from the PWC market, we continued to develop, demonstrate and patent our controlled-thrust technology, as we believed it would save lives and that it represented the best solution to the off-throttle-steering problem. The fact that BRP moved to our technology validates our assessment.”