Johnson Outdoors settles sonar suit with Garmin

Fish-finding technology to be licensed

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Johnson Outdoors Inc. will license patents related to its side scan sonar technology to Garmin as part of a settlement to resolve ongoing litigation between the two companies.

Johnson Outdoors sells fish-finding technology under the brand Humminbird. The company settled a patent infringement suit with Garmin and will license the technology to the company.

The Racine-based company developed boat-mounted sonar systems in the early 2000s that used side scan sonar to locate fish and underwater structures and sold them under the Humminbird name. The company received patents on a number of elements of the technology and in 2014 sued Garmin in federal court over infringement on those patents.

The U.S. International Trade Commission determined last year that Garmin had infringed on one of the patents and not on two of the others, helping to prompt a settlement between the two companies, although both sides had appeals pending.

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Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the companies did say it resolved the ongoing legal disputes.

Helen Johnson-Leipold, Johnson Outdoors chairman and chief executive officer, said innovation is the “lifeblood” of the company and “is the driving force behind our legacy of continuous growth and success.”

“This is why we invest heavily in development and protection of our proprietary innovation and vigorously defend it against unauthorized use,” she said.

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Garmin International president and CEO Cliff Pemble said the company recognizes the innovation made by Johnson Outdoors and Humminbird.

“We understand that patents are a great accomplishment, a prized achievement by innovation leaders, including Johnson Outdoors and Humminbird. We are pleased with the amicable resolution of this matter and respect Johnson Outdoors for working with Garmin to license this technology,” he said.

Johnson Outdoors also reported earnings Friday, including a more than 150 percent jump in net income and earnings per share.

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Net income was up to $9.3 million, compared with $3.6 million in the second quarter last year. The company reported earnings of 93 cents per diluted share, up from 36 cents the previous year.

The gains in profit were driven by improvement in the marine electronics segment, which reported an operating profit of $17.2 million, up from $11.1 the previous year.

The company’s revenue was up less than 1 percent to $134.2 million.

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