Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. has been ordered to pay a Nebraska competitor more than $50 million after a federal jury found the company willfully infringed on a mower deck patent.
Exmark Manufacturing Co. Inc. filed a lawsuit against Briggs in 2010 alleging its mowers sold under the names Snapper Pro S200X and Ferris Comfort Control DD and those with the Briggs iCD cutting system violated a 1999 patent for a multi-blade lawn mower design.
The U.S. District Court for Nebraska determined Briggs’ initial design did infringe on the patent, but a jury also found that a later redesign did not infringe.
The jury awarded Exmark $24.3 million in damages for the initial design infringement and also determined it was willful, allowing the court to enter additional damages. Judge Joseph Bataillon awarded an additional $24.3 million to Exmark, plus an additional $1.5 million and other costs to be determined.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday, Briggs and its subsidiary Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group LLC, indicated both “strongly disagree with the jury verdict, certain rulings made before and during trial, and the May 11, 2016 post-trial rulings. BSPPG intends to vigorously pursue its rights on appeal.”
The company added that it does not anticipate accounting for any financial liabilities from the lawsuit before the end of the fiscal year on July 3.
Briggs asked the court to grant a new trial for damages on a number of factors, arguing the award wasn’t based on evidence presented at trial and that the court didn’t allow Briggs to present evidence showing it couldn’t have known it was at high risk for infringing on the patent.
Briggs argued that the cost to redesign the mower deck should have been accounted for in damages. Bataillon determined the evidence sided with Exmark’s expert witness, who recommended a 5 percent royalty on revenues of Briggs’ infringing lawn mowers.
“Briggs has not shown that the jury’s damages award is in any way monstrous or shocking,” Bataillon wrote. “Briggs arguably enhanced its sales of mowers for a number of years through the infringing conduct. The jury awarded Exmark roughly $250 per mower and the evidence establishes that Briggs earned a considerably larger profit than that on every mower it sold.”
Bataillon denied the motion seeking reconsideration.