A spat over rocker ski patents is pitting two major companies against one another in court. Rossignol filed a “Complaint for Patent Infringement and Declaratory Judgment” in the U.S. District Court in Utah against Armada on October 12.
In an effort to legally assert which skis may be produced by which company, manufacturers are now fighting to patent new technologies—in this case, rocker.
The suit is in response to September 7 “cease and desist” letters that Armada sent various ski makers claiming infringement of their company’s designs—specifically their “674” patent, skis with camber tensioning cables between tip and tail. Rossignol’s October counter suit contends that it is Armada who is infringing upon Rossignol’s “525” patent, a rockered tip with widest point rising 5 to 15mm off of the snow.
“Interestingly, Rossignol has apparently showed no interest in enforcing their patent, despite the existence of many likely infringers, until Armada recently started attempting to enforce their own patent,” says J. Stanton in his November online article (gnolls.org). “Rossignol has not, to my knowledge, gone after anyone but Armada.”
The skis that Rossi is attempting to defend are the S7 and BC110W models. Their response to Armada via the recent counter suit states that “Rossignol has the right to manufacture, sell, import, promote, distribute, and/or use its S7 and BC110W skis, and any like products, without a license or any other arrangement with Armada.”
Their September letter stated, “Rossignol, is selling skis that fall within the claim of Armada’s U.S. Patent. Absent an arrangement with Armada, we must insist that Rossignol immediately cease selling such skis…that fall within the patent.”
“What makes U.S. patent fights interesting is that they are based on first to invent, not first to file, and court proceedings are usually necessary to determine when an invention was actually conceived,” says Stanton.
Rossignol’s counter claim maintains that they are not in violation of Armada’s 674 Patent and stipulates that it is Armada’s ARVw skis that directly violate Rossi’s own 525 Patent.
The complex language of U.S. patent law is the primary point of contention between the two companies. Rossignol also claims that Armada’s 674 patent is invalid, under the law, and that there was no intent from them or any other ski manufacturer to infringe upon Armada’s designs.
This dispute could have far-reaching financial implications for both companies. Whoever the court rules in favor of may recover “lost profit” damages and additional fees for the cost of legal counsel.
Armada’s letter to Rossignol stated, “a patent owner may obtain injunctive relief against infringers and may recover up to three times the amount of damages found adequate to compensate for the infringement.”
While it is uncertain who will prevail, company officials are choosing not to weigh in on the suit. “On the advice of legal counsel, we do not comment on cases of ongoing litigation. In other words, we have no comment at this time,” said Rossignol Executive Assistant Lisa Leffler.
“Rossignol most likely has priority of date with their patent, so this comes down to the exact positioning of the widest part of Armada’s potentially infringing skis,” says Stanton. “Unfortunately this isn’t a measurement that ski manufacturers ever publish.”