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Garmin will appeal patent-violation ruling

Hours after marine electronics manufacturer Navico said Wednesday that the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that competitor Garmin’s DownVu scanning sonar products violate Navico’s U.S. patents for DownScan Imaging technology, Garmin vowed to appeal the decision.

“Garmin intentionally designed its products to prevent infringement of Navico’s patents. We disagree with the ITC and plan to appeal the determination,” Garmin vice president and general counsel Andrew Etkind said in a statement.

“However, as with the Johnson Outdoors ITC determination we announced in November, we have already taken steps to ensure that we can continue to provide Garmin DownVü scanning sonar products. Garmin has already designed, implemented, and manufactured an alternative design that addresses the issue in this ITC ruling.”

Garmin noted that the ITC reversed a decision in July by an administrative law judge in favor of Garmin and said the ITC also found that some asserted claims of one of Navico’s patents were invalid, that there was no infringement of one of Navico’s patents by any Garmin products and that one Garmin scanning sonar system design did not infringe any of Navico’s patents.

The ruling will have no impact on Garmin products that customers and dealers have already bought or any products purchased going forward, the company said.

“The ITC expressly found that Garmin did not intend to infringe Navico’s patents,” the statement reads. “Garmin will continue to vigorously defend the non-infringing configuration of these first-generation DownVü scanning sonar products through appeals and an ongoing litigation in Oklahoma. The ITC ruling applies only to Garmin and has no impact on any existing dealer inventory or any products already purchased by our customers.”

Garmin said the transducers that the ITC ruling affects “will be available shortly with the alternative design solution.”

Although the redesign addresses the ITC’s findings, Garmin said customers and dealers will not notice a change to user interface, installation or compatibility with existing Garmin products or accessories.

The ITC ruling prohibits Garmin from importing, selling, advertising and aiding or assisting distributors or retailers in selling all of its infringing DownVu products, including the echo, echoMAP and GPSMAP products, with their respective transducers, Navico said in a statement.