Kohler Ordered to Pay $9.6M in Patent Suit

May 23, 2013

The Kohler Co. has been ordered in federal court to pay $9.6 million to a Massachusetts manufacturer for infringing on two of its patents for components that reduce exhaust emissions in marine generators.

Jurors in U.S. District Court in Boston last week found Kohler willfully infringed on the patents issued in 2008 and 2010. They are owned by an affiliate of the Westerbeke Corp., which accused Kohler of infringing on both patents with several models of its low carbon monoxide marine generators.

Kohler denied the allegations and filed a counterclaim seeking to declare Westerbeke’s patents invalid because the technology would have been “obvious to one of ordinary skill,” according to court filings.

Kohler spokesman Todd Weber said the company still believes the technology used in its generators was “well known and in the public domain” and was developed years ago by the automotive industry to reduce emissions.

“There is nothing novel about using this known technology on a marine generator,” Weber said.

Weber said Kohler will ask the court to modify the jury’s verdict and will file appeals on “any remaining issues on infringement and invalidity.”

Westerbeke’s lawsuit, filed more than two years ago, went to trial earlier this month, with Westerbeke seeking to recoup damages and costs, along with an injunction prohibiting further patent infringement, according to The Sheboygan Press.

Jurors determined Westerbeke was due royalties worth 13.5 percent of Kohler’s gross sales on its marine generators, according to court records.

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