Navico – the world’s largest manufacturer of marine electronics and parent company to the Lowrance®, Simrad® and B&G® brands – announced today that a Texas federal jury has found that Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN) willfully infringed two of Navico’s DownScan Imaging™ sonar patents and awarded Navico $38,755,000 in damages. The district court judge has discretion to increase the damages to account for the jury’s finding that Garmin’s infringement was willful.
The unanimous jury verdict validates Navico’s long-standing claims against Garmin. The infringement finding concerned two of Navico’s patents relating to marine sonar technology -- U.S. Patent Nos. 9,223,022 and 9,244,168 -- and the finding is consistent with separate rulings by an International Trade Commission (ITC) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) concerning Garmin’s infringement of additional Navico patents.
The willfulness finding means the jury found that Garmin knew about Navico’s patents and engaged in conduct that “was egregious, reckless, wanton, malicious, done in bad faith, deliberately or consciously wrongful, or flagrant.”
As part of the civil lawsuit, Navico also accused Garmin of false advertising relating to false and misleading assertions regarding its transition from the infringing DownVü™ sonar-scanning to the replacement design called ClearVü™, which lacks a true downscan element. Although the U.S. District Court judge opted not to submit this issue to the jury, during the trial Garmin’s sonar design engineer confirmed that ClearVü can miss objects directly beneath a user’s boat.
Garmin sells ClearVü sonar technology in the U.S. without a down-facing transducer element, relying on data from side-scanning elements to compile and synthesize a scanning image beneath the boat. A down-facing transducer element is included in all ClearVü products outside of the United States, beyond the scope of Navico’s U.S. patents. Navico continues to believe that Garmin’s abrupt transition from DownVü to ClearVü in late 2016 included false and misleading statements about the features and capabilities of ClearVü. Garmin’s actions confused the marine electronics market until Garmin finally acknowledged the limitations of ClearVü in March 2017, six months after the technology was announced.
At present time, a decision to reverse a June 2017 ruling by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of Garmin is under review.