Court rejects Nautilus plea to reinstate Icon prelim injunction

In the ongoing patent and trademark infringement case between The Nautilus Group and Icon Health & Fitness, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has rejected Nautilus' argument to lift the stay that Icon won on a preliminary injunction in early August. This means Icon may continue marketing its Crossbow product during legal proceedings.

In the ongoing patent and trademark infringement case between The Nautilus Group and Icon Health & Fitness, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has rejected Nautilus' argument to lift the stay that Icon won on a preliminary injunction in early August. Filed Aug. 11, Nautilus' motion requested that the stay be released and the preliminary injunction be reinstated, which would have kept Icon from marketing, selling or advertising its Crossbow by Weider product until a verdict is reached in a December trial.

"Obviously we knew it could go one way or the other, and it kind of went one of the ways we didn't want it to go," Kevin Lamar, president of The Nautilus Group, told SNEWS after the federal court's ruling late Sept. 3 that stated the company's arguments against the stay were "moot." "But we're just going to do business as usual and compete with them.

"We're not done in a long shot with the litigation with Icon, and we're going to continue down that path as aggressively as we can. And we still believe we will prevail in the end," Lamar added.

Brad Bearnson, Icon legal counsel, did not return several phone calls by press time.

Fast and furious legal maneuvering has characterized this case from the start. The Nautilus Group filed a suit against Icon in December 2002 in which Nautilus charged Icon with trademark infringement and literal patent infringement on its Bowflex machine by Icon's Crossbow by Weider, which was introduced in October 2002. In May 2003, Nautilus was denied a preliminary injunction for literal patent infringement, and Icon won partial summary judgment on several claims of literal patent infringement, therefore avoiding trial on those.

But in July, the U.S. District Court in Seattle granted Nautilus a request for a preliminary injunction on the trademark infringement claims, noting that, "There is no dispute that the parties effectively market the same product—a resilient rod home exercise machine." However, all that changed virtually overnight, when the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. stayed the preliminary injunction on Aug. 1, thereby allowing Icon to continue selling the Crossbow during the legal proceedings.

The trademark infringement case is scheduled to being Dec. 1 in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, in Seattle, Wash. The Bowflex patent expires in April 2004, but Nautilus has promised to defend it until that date since if Nautilus wins damages would date back to when the Crossbow came on the market.

SNEWS View: Based on the maneuverings to date, SNEWS bets this case indeed will make for a very interesting trial. But, as in many of these infringement cases, the attorneys will in the long run come out the winners since neither Nautilus nor Icon are the types of companies that would even consider settling.


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