Sonar Wars: the fi­nal bat­tle?

The patent war be­tween Garmin and Nav­ico rolls on

Motorboat & Yachting - - Newtech -

Garmin has claimed vic­tory in what could be the last, de­ci­sive bat­tle in its long-run­ning patent war with Nav­ico.

The story be­gan in 2010, when Nav­ico launched its Down­scan sonar. It used much higher fre­quen­cies than con­ven­tional sonar, which could be fo­cused into a tight, fan-shaped beam to pro­duce much clearer images of the seabed and un­der­wa­ter struc­ture.

For a few years, Nav­ico had the high-def­i­ni­tion sonar mar­ket to it­self, but in 2013, Garmin and Ray­ma­rine launched their own ver­sions – Downvü and Down­vi­sion – both us­ing tightly fo­cused fan-shaped beams of high-frequency ul­tra­sound to pro­duce high-def­i­ni­tion images.

Nav­ico’s re­sponse was to launch a le­gal war on two fronts, al­leg­ing that both of its ri­vals had in­fringed the patents that were in­tended to pro­tect Down­scan.

Ray­ma­rine rolled over quite quickly. Barely a year af­ter the launch of Down­vi­sion, it an­nounced that it had en­tered into a li­cens­ing agree­ment with Nav­ico – ef­fec­tively hand­ing over an undis­closed share of the prof­its from Down­vi­sion to its ri­val.

Garmin, how­ever, was more stub­born, and in 2015 de­clared it­self the win­ner when an Amer­i­can Ad­min­is­tra­tive Judge found in its favour. But its tri­umph lasted barely six months, be­cause Nav­ico ap­pealed against the judge’s de­ci­sion… and won. In De­cem­ber the same year, the In­ter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion im­posed a ‘stop and de­sist’ or­der on Garmin, in­tended to pre­vent Garmin from im­port­ing or sell­ing any Downvü prod­ucts in the US. And when Garmin ig­nored the or­der, the ITC im­posed a record fine of $37 mil­lion. Now it was Garmin’s turn to ap­peal. The Fed­eral Court de­cided that two of the three dis­puted patents were in­valid be­cause Down­scan was ‘an ob­vi­ous mod­i­fi­ca­tion’ of ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy, while the third hadn’t been in­fringed at all. Its de­ci­sion leaves Garmin free to con­tinue mak­ing and sell­ing Downvü sonar, and lets it off the hook of the $37 mil­lion fine that had been im­posed by the ITC.

Nav­ico’s CEO has been quoted in trade pa­pers as say­ing that he is ‘dis­ap­pointed’ and that ‘we are cur­rently re­view­ing our op­tions for mov­ing for­ward.’

Ray­ma­rine pays a li­cens­ing fee to Nav­ico for its Down­vi­sion sonar but Garmin fought the patent

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.