Nautilus loses federal appeal of Icon victory in patent infringement case

Icon's legal victory in a patent infringement case brought against it by Nautilus nearly four years ago was affirmed by the federal court when that court declined to hear the ruling by the lower court.
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Icon's legal victory in a patent infringement case brought against it by Nautilus nearly four years ago was affirmed by the federal court when that court declined to hear the ruling by the lower court.

On Aug. 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., entered a judgment without opinion, which affirms the decision that was appealed in the infringement case originally filed in December 2002 by Nautilus charging Icon with infringement of its Bowflex. The case had charged both patent and trademark infringement, but the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, separated the two early in the proceedings. The trademark part has been on hold since the case began, but is slated to proceed to trial in the fall.

"This court affirmed the judgment or decision that was appealed," the federal ruling obtained by SNEWS® stated. "None of the relief sought in the appeal was granted."

After waiting nearly a year for the federal ruling, Nautilus told SNEWS® it was "exploring a rehearing" and said it would continue to chase companies it deems as infringers.

"We may not always prevail through all the technicalities of our legal system, but that doesn't dampen our commitment to protecting intellectual property," spokesman Ron Arp told SNEWS®.

"Nautilus Inc. is committed to product innovation as part of our plan to change the game in health and fitness. That commitment requires us to aggressively protect and defend our intellectual property. We have not built in any benefits of litigation into our business plans, with the exception of ongoing litigation costs which we view as part of doing business."

Although other infringement cases brought by both sides are still pending in two states, the most recent judgment left Icon expressing satisfaction with the outcome.

"We're pleased the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with our position that our product does not infringe," said director of marketing Colleen Logan.

According to the federal ruling, the party that appealed the ruling to the federal court must pay costs. However, the court judgments don't mean Nautilus will back off those companies it considers to be infringing on its intellectual property, Arp said.

"Knock off our products and we will pursue it aggressively," he added. "The old-school knock-off approach in this industry is unhealthy and hurts innovation."

In other cases pending between the two companies:
>> A trial on the trademark charges that were a part of this 2002 suit brought by Nautilus that had been on hold should now go forward. It is now scheduled for October.
>> The November 2005 judgment against Nautilus of nearly $8 million in another patent infringement case, which was originally filed in August 2002 by Icon against Nautilus, is also at the federal court after Nautilus filed that appeal in June. That action came after a lower court, in March 2006, affirmed the judgment in Icon's favor and, in May 2006, denied a motion for a new trial. The appeal process in this case could take into most of 2007 before the federal court either affirms the lower court's ruling, effectively denying the appeal, or sends it back to the lower court to be placed on the calendar for a re-trial.
>> A trademark infringement case brought in July 2004 by Nautilus against Icon concerning the new name, Crossbar, adopted by Icon for its Crossbow, was settled out-of-court in late 2004. Weider websites (www.weiderhomefitness.com) now show the company has dropped both names.

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