Commission Upholds Marine Electronics Leader’s Patents for DownScan Imaging™
Navico – the world’s largest manufacturer of marine electronics and parent company to the Lowrance®, Simrad®, B&G® and GoFree® brands –announced today that the International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that Garmin Ltd. DownVu™scanning sonar products violate Navico’s patents for DownScan Imaging™technology. This ruling reverses an initial determination issued by an Administrative Law Judge this past July, previously announced by Garmin Ltd.
(NASDAQ:GRMN). In addition, this is the second adverse ruling in two weeks by the ITC that finds that Garmin is violating sonar patents.
The ITC DownVu ruling prohibits Garmin from importing,selling, advertising, and aiding or assisting distributors or retailers in selling all its infringing DownVu products, including the echo, echoMAP and GPSMAP products with their respective transducers. Specifically, the Commission has issued a Cease and Desist Order barring Garmin and its distributors from selling, or aiding others in the sale of, these products and has also issued an Exclusion Order directing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reject their importation.
While all ITC orders have a 60-day period before taking full effect, effective immediately resellers of Garmin DownVu products risk willfully infringing Navico’s patents if they continue to sell Garmin DownVu products, and they could be subject to an infringement suit. Therefore, Navico advises against any distributor, dealer or retailer continuing marketing or selling these products and recommends that resellers seek independent legal advice if they have any questions in this matter. In addition, the ITC has ruled that Garmin must post a bond equal to 100 percent of the value of infringing products, when they sell from inventory or import any of these products into the U.S. during the 60-day review period.
Further, any Garmin products claiming to feature a “design around”solution are subject to ITC or U.S. Customs approval in order to confirm that such an alternative solution does not likewise violate Navico’s patents. As of this writing, Garmin has not initiated the process of submitting alternative designs.
Garmin could file an appeal with a U.S. Federal Court in an attempt to challenge the factual conclusions or show the law was incorrectly applied by the ITC; however, in the meantime, the importation and sale of Garmin products featuring DownVu technology are subject to the ITC ruling and violate Navico’s patents, effectively immediately. “We are extremely pleased that the ITC has ruled in ourfavor,”said Leif Ottosson, CEO, Navico. “Our innovative DownScan Imaging provides real benefits to fishermen, and we have invested considerable time, effort and resources todevelop and bring it to market. Our patents are designed to protect that investment.
“We offered our competitors the opportunity to license our technology and incorporate it into their products for the benefit of their customers – and many have. This offer was also made to Garmin, but they declined – putting everyone who sells their products in a difficult position. The situation is unfortunate for many dealers and distributors in the marine electronics marketplace, but we will continue to vigorously defend the intellectual property that protects our innovations and our leading position in the marketplace.”
The International Trade Commission is an independent governmental agency in Washington, DC responsible for addressing patent infringement disputes relating to goods that are manufactured abroad and imported into the United States. Garmin’s DownVu Products are manufactured and imported from Taiwan.