Skip to main content

Sea Ray denied venue change in patent lawsuit

A Virginia court denied Sea Ray Boats’ request to move a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Cobalt Boats to Tennessee.

A Virginia court denied Sea Ray Boats’ request to move a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Cobalt Boats to Tennessee, in part because of developments in technology.

U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. said in his denial of Sea Ray’s motion requesting a venue change that although the accused party’s location has been the preferred forum for proceedings, that argument is moot because it’s no longer expensive and time-consuming to transport evidence in infringement suits.

“Weighing in plaintiff’s favor are its choice of forum, intent to call two non-party Virginia witnesses, the willingness of the remaining non-party witnesses to travel to the Eastern District of Virginia, and the interests of justice in fostering the speedy and inexpensive resolution of civil litigation,” Morgan wrote in his decision on Thursday.

Cobalt plans to call two Virginia boat dealers who say they have lost sales because of the alleged infringement.

Cobalt filed suit against Sea Ray Boats in January, alleging that the company infringed on Cobalt’s patent for a submersible swim step. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Sea Ray’s “reckless” infringement of the patent has caused Cobalt to lose sales.

The original complaint cited Sea Ray dealerships in Virginia that sold Sea Ray Sundecks 220, 240, 270 and 290, which come equipped with the retractable swim step.

Cobalt also asked that a jury determine “adequate” compensation for Sea Ray’s infringement, as well as coverage of attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses connected with the lawsuit. Cobalt is also seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit future sales of boats with the swim step feature.

Sea Ray parent company, Brunswick Corp., said in court documents filed in March that there was no “actual or legal basis” for the infringement lawsuit that Cobalt Boats LLC filed in late January, adding that the “defendants deny all allegations of patent infringement.”

The company denied “that Cobalt’s development of the swim step was a significant improvement in the design of boat swim platforms.”

The company also filed a motion to transfer the case from Virginia to eastern Tennessee, saying that “most, if not all, of the documents concerning the marketing, sales, design, operation and manufacturing of the accused products are located in or accessible from the boat group’s headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn.”

“Brunswick denies that this district is the most convenient forum for Cobalt’s action,” Sea Ray attorney David Morris said in court documents.

Cobalt is based in Neodesha, Kan.

A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 16 at the Eastern District of Virginia Court in Norfolk.



Rays of Light

A key indicator of U.S. consumer confidence rose for the first time in four months in August as the economy added 315,000 jobs.


Yanmar Announces Sales, Marketing Hires

The company has hired Bas Eerden as global sales manager and Michele Durkin as global marketing manager.


So, You Want To Be a Yacht Broker

Tips to help build a network through an online presence which is essential to success


Ian Explodes Into Category 4 Hurricane

The historic hurricane is expected to make landfall this afternoon between Naples and Venice, Fla.


Premier Marine Announces New Minnesota Facility

The pontoon builder recently completed a 150,000-square-foot building with new corporate offices and expanded manufacturing facilities.


Scout Boats Recognizes Top Dealers

Seven Seas Yacht Sales of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., was recognized as the boatbuilder’s top dealer worldwide.


TowBoatUS Vessels Go Pink

Five of TowBoatUS’s response fleet are going pink for the month of October to help increase breast cancer awareness on the water.


Fork in the Channel

Boat registration totals for July mostly revealed considerable weakness compared with a year earlier, and tumbled back into a steeper downtrend than the prior month’s comparisons.


Inflation Stymies Boat Sales

Inventories of new and used boats are improving at the retail level but are still considered comparatively lean, according to the results of the monthly Pulse Report survey.