When a federal appeals court declined to re-hear Cybex's losing appeal on the nearly 12-year-old patent infringement battle brought by Gary Colassi, it closed the book on the case, leaving Colassi relieved he could move on.
"We got the win, and I'm really relieved it's finally over with," Colassi told SNEWS®. "The little guy has prevailed."
Cybex (NYSE: CYB) had originally appealed the 2005 judgment against it by the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The federal court affirmed the lower court's ruling in February 2007, and Cybex requested a re-hearing on the appeal, which was ultimately denied.
"While we are disappointed that the court denied our request for a re-hearing, we are pleased that, with the finalization of this suit, we have no further non-insured open litigation matters," said Cybex CEO John Aglialoro in a statement.
The company added that it would not further pursue the case and would make its payment to Colassi of the $2.5 million judgment plus interest in the next 30 days. Damages were based on a "reasonable royalty" on the treadmills sold since the patent filing, the 2005 lower-court verdict stated.
Colassi, who has run a World Gym in Foxboro, Mass., for 18 years, said he first contacted Medway, Mass.-based, Cybex about his idea and with drawings of a cushioned system for treadmill decks in December 1995. He applied for the patent in 1996 and it was granted to him in September 2000. When Cybex later came out with the "Stableflex" cushioned deck on its own -- after it had reviewed his designs for several months, then declined to license the concept -- Colassi claimed infringement and filed suit in September 2002.
"This is my art," Colassi said. "This is what I did. I created it, and it killed me this company was in denial."
Aside from relief, though, he also expressed disappointment that the case ended up in the courts and taking such huge legal fees from both sides -- money that could have been better spent elsewhere.
"It's been a shame the company had to take this route," he said. "The attorneys' fees are astronomical, and that's the shame of it all…. It's going to be a big lawyer bill."
The judgment had been previously reserved on Cybex's consolidated financial statements, and the company reported it did not anticipate its payment would result in any further charge to earnings.
SNEWS® View: Yet another matter that seems to get wrapped up in the legal system, doing nothing ultimately except fattening the pocketbooks of leagues of attorneys. In this case, between Cybex and Colassi's attorneys, we're talking expenses that were much, much more than the final verdict. That's simply a pity.