Icon wins first court-ordered payment from Nautilus in Bowflex patent case

Chipping away at the nearly $8 million verdict against Nautilus stemming from a 2002 trademark and patent infringement case, a federal judge has ruled that Nautilus must pay Icon $325,000 for false advertising of its Bowflex.
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Chipping away at the nearly $8 million verdict against Nautilus stemming from a 2002 trademark and patent infringement case, a federal judge has ruled that Nautilus must pay Icon $325,000 for false advertising of its Bowflex.

The fine is part of a larger penalty awarded by a jury in November 2005 as a part of the verdict in a case that began in August 2002 when Icon Health & Fitness sued Nautilus claiming false advertising and falsely marking the Bowflex rods as patented.

In the case, tried in the U.S. District Court, District of Utah, Judge Tena Campbell based the fine on 650 weeks of violation although Icon had alleged between 915 and 5,600 separate instances. Nautilus has contended the violations were one continuous act and should be counted as one offense. The total of $325,000 came from multiplying $500 per violation by the 650 weeks between January 1992 and June 2004 of the violating period.

"We're pleased with what we have on this so far," Colleen Logan, Icon's vice president of marketing, told SNEWS®, "and we agree with what the jury decided. But it's really the judge's final decision. We're all just waiting."

The judge is still considering whether the rest of the more than $7.8 million total fine awarded to Icon by the jury in November is binding, as Icon contends, or advisory, as Nautilus contends. (Click here to see a Nov. 17, 2005, SNEWS® story, "Jury finds in favor of Icon's false advertising claims against Nautilus.")

"The judge has ruled on a portion of the case," Nautilus spokesman Ron Arp told SNEWS®. "The larger matter before the court is still under her consideration."

The federal judge added in the late March memo "that, regardless of its binding or advisory nature, the verdict rendered in this case, at least so far as liability is concerned, is sufficiently supported by the evidence presented at trial….."

"Although the jury's finding of liability is adequately supported by the record," the judge's memo concluded, "the court considers this a closed case."

In other cases between the two companies:
>> A jury trial is pending in the trademark part of a case filed by Nautilus in a Western Washington district court that alleged infringement by Icon with its Crossbow equipment. That part had been separated and put on hold while the patent part was being heard. The trial is now set for October in a Seattle court.
>> In that patent segment of the above Crossbow case, originally filed in December 2002, Nautilus' appeal of the Washington court's judgment in favor of Icon in the patent segment from last year is still being reviewed by the federal appeals court.
>> A third case brought in July 2004 by Nautilus against Icon charging infringement by the Crossbar name (what the Crossbow became because of the above infringement charges) was settled out-of-court in December 2005.  

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