Malibu lawsuit against Nautique enters next phase

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A judgment between Nautique and Malibu Boats over a patent infringement case could occur as early as December and a trial remains scheduled for February.

Malibu filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Tennessee in October 2013, saying Nautique’s Surf System infringed on the company’s patented Surf Gate system, according to court documents. Nautique has said Malibu didn’t start its patent application process until after the Nautique Surf System was released.

The projection on a December summary judgment is a “best guess” since depositions in the case began in October and are set to continue through November, Malibu CEO Jack Springer told analysts and investors during a quarterly earnings call Tuesday evening.

Malibu recently announced that it settled a patent infringement claim filed by Pacific Coast Marine Windshields Ltd. for $20 million. Reaching the settlement helped save legal expenses, and Malibu could realize more savings on that front if it reaches a settlement with Nautique before that case goes to trial.

Malibu continues to grow market share, based on retail sales and registration data calculated on a trailing 12-month basis, but Springer said the gains would naturally decelerate over time.

For the period that ended June 30, the company’s market share had ticked up to 32.8 percent, he said, adding that new-product introductions will help continue the company’s growth.

Malibu unveiled its new Axis T23 at its national dealer meeting this week and the company plans to produce it in time for January boat shows, Springer said.

New-model introductions are driving unit and market share growth despite a mix skewing more toward the Axis brand, according to Wells Fargo industry analyst Tim Conder, who is recommending that investors build positions in the company.

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