Sea Ray rebuts infringement allegations by Cobalt

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Sea Ray Boats is denying allegations that it infringed on a Cobalt Boats patent with its submersible swim step.

Parent company Brunswick Corp. said in documents filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia late last week 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.”

“Brunswick admits that it is a direct competitor of Cobalt,” court documents filed last week read. “Brunswick further admits that it has promoted and sold boats with a ‘submersible swimstep.’ ”

However, the company denied that its submersible swim step was a copy of Cobalt’s step that holds U.S. Patent No. 8,375,880.

“Brunswick further denies that its ‘submersible swimstep’ infringes the ’880 Patent or corresponds to any claim limitation in the ’880 Patent,” court papers read.

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.

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

Sea Ray also repeated Cobalt’s request for a jury trial.

“Defendants request a jury trial for all triable issues in Cobalt’s complaint and their affirmative defenses to the extent allowed by the United States Constitution and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,” court documents read.

“Defendants deny that plaintiff is entitled to any relief whatsoever … in connection with this civil action,” court documents said.

Cobalt filed suit against Sea Ray on Jan. 28, saying the company’s “reckless” infringement of the patent has caused Cobalt to lose sales.


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