Bombardier Recreational Prods., Inc. v. Arctic Cat Inc.

Citation331 F.Supp.3d 902
Decision Date07 August 2018
Docket NumberCivil No. 12-2706 (JRT/LIB)
Parties BOMBARDIER RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS, INC. and BRP U.S. Inc., Plaintiffs, v. ARCTIC CAT INC., and Arctic Cat Sales Inc., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Minnesota

Harry C. Marcus, Joseph Farco, and Robert K. Goethals, LOCKE LORD LLP, Three World Financial Center, New York, NY 10281, Kevin D. Conneely and Ruth A. Rivard, STINSON LEONARD STREET LLP, 50 South Sixth Street, Suite 2600, Minneapolis, MN 55402, for plaintiffs.

Aaron A. Myers, Diane L. Peterson, and Niall A. MacLeod, KUTAK ROCK LLP, 60 South Sixth Street, Suite 3400, Minneapolis, MN 55402, Frederick H. Davis, KUTAK ROCK LLP, 124 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 2000, Little Rock, AR 72201, and Jacob Song, KUTAK ROCK LLP, 5 Park Plaza, Suite 1500, Irvine, CA 92614, for defendants.


JOHN R. TUNHEIM, Chief JudgePlaintiffs Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc. and BRP U.S. Inc. (collectively "BRP") brought this patent-infringement action against Arctic Cat Inc. and Arctic Cat Sales Inc. (collectively "Arctic Cat"). BRP alleged that certain Arctic Cat snowmobiles (the "Accused Products") infringed two of its patents related to snowmobile frames: U.S. Patent No. 7,213,669 ("the '669 Patent") and U.S. Patent No. 7,124,847 ("the '847 Patent"). (Compl. ¶¶ 9-15, 30-36, Dec. 15, 2011, Docket No. 1; see id. ¶ 9, Ex. A ( '847 Patent); see id. ¶ 30, Ex. D ( '669 Patent) ). The Court granted BRP summary judgment of infringement with respect to the '847 Patent. (Mem. Op. & Order at 31, Dec. 29, 2016, Docket No. 781.) The issues for trial included whether Arctic Cat infringed the '669 Patent, whether Arctic Cat's infringement was willful, whether the asserted claims of BRP's patents were invalid, and damages. (See Verdict, Dec. 6, 2017, Docket No. 1071.)

After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in Arctic Cat's favor. (J., Dec. 6, 2017, Docket No. 1072.) Although the jury found the '669 Patent infringed, it found all asserted claims of both the '669 and '847 Patents invalid. (Id. ) The jury did not make any findings related to damages or willfulness, consistent with the Court's instructions. (See Verdict.)

BRP and Arctic Cat filed post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law ("JMOL") and motions for a new trial on various grounds. (Defs.' Mot. for JMOL, Dec. 3, 2018, Docket No. 1094; Pls.' Mot. for New Trial, Jan. 3, 2018, Docket No. 1099; Pls.' Mot. for JMOL, Jan. 3, 2018, Docket No. 1102.) In general, Arctic Cat seeks JMOL that it does not infringe the '669 Patent, and BRP seeks JMOL that its patents are not invalid. Because the Court will find that sufficient evidence supported the jury's findings and that a new trial is not warranted on any ground, the Court will deny the parties' motions.


While Federal Circuit law governs substantive patent law, regional circuit law governs a district court's rulings on post-trial motions for JMOL and for a new trial. See Finjan, Inc. v. Secure Computing Corp. , 626 F.3d 1197, 1202 (Fed. Cir. 2010).


Under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court may resolve an issue as a matter of law if "a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue." "A motion for judgment as a matter of law should be granted when all the evidence points one way and is susceptible of no reasonable inferences sustaining the position of the nonmoving party." Hunt ex rel. Hunt v. Lincoln Cty. Mem'l Hosp. , 317 F.3d 891, 893 (8th Cir. 2003) (quoting Neely v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. , 123 F.3d 1127, 1129 (8th Cir. 1997) ). In making this determination, the Court must:

consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, assume that the jury resolved all conflicts of evidence in favor of that party, assume as true all facts which the prevailing party's evidence tended to prove, give the prevailing party the benefit of all favorable inferences which may reasonably be drawn from the facts, and deny the motion, if in light of the foregoing, reasonable jurors could differ as to the conclusion that could be drawn from the evidence.

Minneapolis Cmty. Dev. Agency v. Lake Calhoun Assocs. , 928 F.2d 299, 301 (8th Cir. 1991) (quoting Atlas Pile Driving Co. v. Dicon Fin. Co. , 886 F.2d 986, 989 (8th Cir. 1989) ). Because a Rule 50(b) motion constitutes a renewal of a Rule 50(a) motion made at the close of the evidence, a Rule 50(b) motion is limited to the issues raised in the Rule 50(a) motion. Hinz v. Neuroscience, Inc. , 538 F.3d 979, 983-84 (8th Cir. 2008).

B. New Trial

The Court may grant a motion for a new trial "on all or some of the issues." Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1). "A new trial is appropriate when the first trial, through a verdict against the weight of the evidence ... or legal errors at trial, resulted in a miscarriage of justice." Gray v. Bicknell , 86 F.3d 1472, 1480 (8th Cir. 1996). "The authority to grant a new trial is within the discretion of the district court." Id. The Court may grant a new trial where erroneous rulings "had a substantial influence on the jury's verdict." Littleton v. McNeely , 562 F.3d 880, 888 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Harris v. Chand , 506 F.3d 1135, 1139 (8th Cir. 2007) ). Only if the jury's verdict is so against the great weight of the evidence that it constitutes a miscarriage of justice should a motion for a new trial be granted. Ogden v. Wax Works, Inc. , 214 F.3d 999, 1010 (8th Cir. 2000).


BRP argued at trial that Arctic Cat infringed claims 88 and 92-95 of the '669 Patent. At the close of BRP's case in chief, Arctic Cat moved for JMOL under Rule 50(a) that it did not infringe the '669 Patent. (Trial Tr. Vol. X at 2068:10-14, Jan. 2, 2018, Docket No. 1087.) The Court denied Arctic Cat's motion. (Id. at 2088:11-15.) The jury found claims 88 and 92-95 of the '669 Patent infringed. (Verdict at 1.) Now, Arctic Cat renews under Rule 50(b) its motion for JMOL that it does not infringe. Because BRP presented sufficient evidence from which the jury could have found by a preponderance of the evidence that Arctic Cat infringed claims 88 and 92-95 of the '669 Patent, and because the jury's verdict was not substantially influenced by any legal errors, the Court will deny Arctic Cat's motion for JMOL.

A. Infringement Standard

"[W]hoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States ... during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent." 35 U.S.C. § 271(a). To infringe, an accused product must "contain[ ] every claim limitation or its equivalent." Medgraph, Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc. , 843 F.3d 942, 949 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

B. Sufficiency of Evidence

Arctic Cat's primary noninfringement argument concerns the "seat position defined by the seat" limitation in claims 88 and 92-95 of the '669 Patent. There was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that the Accused Products include a "seat position defined by the seat." The Court construed "seat position defined by the seat" to mean "a portion of the straddle-type seat positioned beneath the center of weight distribution of a 50th percentile North-American adult male weighing 78 kg and has the body build illustrated in FIGS. 9A, 9B and 10 seated in a natural operating position." (Claim Const. Order at 35-36, Sept. 28, 2015, Docket No. 552.) BRP presented evidence, including expert testimony, that the Accused Products meet this claim limitation as construed. (See, e.g. , Trial Tr. Vol. V at 960:23-961:2, 969:16-19, 973:18-974:6, Jan. 2, 2018, Docket No. 1082; Trial Tr. Vol. VI at 1090:10-1091:18, Jan. 2, 2018, Docket No. 1083; Trial Tr. Vol. VII at 1501:2-1504:16, Jan. 2, 2018, Docket No. 1084.) Arctic Cat's argument that BRP never presented evidence of numerical measurements regarding the "seat position" (or the "center of weight distribution") are unavailing, as neither the asserted claims of the '669 Patent, nor the Court's construction of the "seat position" limitation require any numerical measurements – unlike, for example, the limitations in claims 92-95 of the '669 Patent that recite numerical measurements for the location of the "steering position." (See '699 Patent at 21:57-22:3.) The Court will therefore deny Arctic Cat's motion for JMOL on this ground.1

C. Certificate of Correction

Arctic Cat also argues that it is entitled to JMOL of no infringement of the '669 Patent because a certificate of correction issued with respect to the '669 Patent after this litigation started. Arctic Cat's position fails for two reasons.

First, Arctic Cat has waived this issue. Arctic Cat made this argument in one of its motions in limine (which the Court denied before trial), but Arctic Cat omitted this argument from its Rule 50(a) motion. (See Trial Tr. Vol. X at 2069:7-2073:2.) Although Arctic Cat did not need to renew its evidentiary objection at trial, see Fed. R. Evid. 103(b), it was required to include this argument in its Rule 50(a) motion to preserve it for its Rule 50(b) motion. "Indisputably, if an argument is raised in support of a motion in limine , the motion is denied , and the argument is not restated at the appropriate time, the argument is not preserved under Rules 50 or 51." Repola v. Morbark Indus., Inc. , 934 F.2d 483, 488 (3d Cir. 1991) ; see Hinz , 538 F.3d at 983-84.

Second, Arctic Cat fails to engage the proper legal standard. Arctic Cat correctly states that whether a patentee may assert uncorrected claims depends on whether the uncorrected claims "omit[ ] a material limitation ... not evident on the face of the patent," H-W Tech., L.C. v., Inc. , 758 F.3d 1329, 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2014). But Arctic Cat argues that the certificate of correction simply changed the scope of the asserted claims, not that the alleged errors are omitted material limitations not evident on the face of the patent.2...

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