U.S. appeals court reverses $5.4 million decision against Brunswick

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A federal appeals court ruled Friday in favor of Brunswick Corp. in a patent dispute with Cobalt Boats. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit cleared Brunswick of infringing on a patent owned by Cobalt Boats on a retractable swim step.

Cobalt filed the case in January 2015 against Sea Ray Boats and its parent company, Brunswick. Cobalt said Sea Ray had infringed on the patented retractable swim step that Cobalt introduced in 2010.

In June 2017, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled in Cobalt’s favor, saying Sea Ray had infringed on Cobalt's U.S. patent No. 8,375,880. The judge adjusted Cobalt's award upward to $5.4 million and awarded Cobalt its attorneys' fees.

In the ruling on Friday, the federal appeals court reversed the district court’s decision. The court wrote that that the “evidence shows no literal infringement of claim 4,” of the patent infringement, “and Cobalt cannot establish infringement of claims 4 and 5 under the doctrine of equivalents because of prosecution history estoppel” in the original jury trial.

Therefore, the court concluded that “Brunswick was entitled to judgment as a matter of law of no infringement.” 

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