Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

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Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by administrator » Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:14 pm

Cobalt has just sued Sea Ray over their boat swim-step, claiming it infringes their patent:

http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/2015/01/c ... t-sea-ray/
cobalt243.jpg
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Cobalt 243
searay270.jpg
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SeaRay 270

Patent : https://www.google.com/patents/US8375880?

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by jhnmdahl » Tue Mar 03, 2015 1:39 pm

A few further details:

Cobalt sent a letter to Sea Ray on October 1, 2014, asking Sea Ray to resolve what it believed to be patent infringement. Sea Ray did not respond, and so Cobalt filed suit on January 23rd. Cobalt is seeking compensation for those swim steps already sold on Sea Rays, as well as an injunction to keep Sea Ray from selling such swim steps in the future.

Cobalt has the challenge of showing that Sea Ray's swim step includes each and every element of a patented claim, which likely means that Cobalt has to show Sea Ray's step includes not only the claimed flip-down step, but also the claimed "spring biased locking mechanism configured to hold at least one of said moveable arms in a stationary position when said platform is in said deployed position and releasable to accommodate movement of said platform to said stored position," which may prove more difficult (and easier to design around).

The patent in question can be found at: https://www.google.com/patents/US8375880

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by administrator » Wed Mar 25, 2015 3:04 pm

Sea Ray has responded, predictably saying their swim step doesn't infringe the Cobalt patent. For more details, see:

http://www.tradeonlytoday.com/2015/03/s ... ns-cobalt/

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by kettcb » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:08 am

Looks like they are probably saying that spring bias thing is different on theirs.

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by jhnmdahl » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:01 am

I think that's right. The general rule for patent infringement is that to infringe you must do/have every element of at least one of the claims. Note that claim 1 includes "a spring biased locking mechanism configured to hold at least one of said moveable arms in a stationary position when said platform is in said deployed position and releasable to accommodate movement of said platform to said stored position."

So, you could have a spring-biased locking mechanism when in the undeployed position and a different mechanism to keep it deployed, and likely not infringe. It would be interesting to see how the locking mechanism on the Searay works.

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by jhnmdahl » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:05 pm

Note that claim 5 recites "means for locking said coupling means in a stationary position when said step is in said deployed position, said locking means further configured to accommodate movement of said step to said stored position," which appears to be broader, but is likely interpreted as a means-plus-function claim that's limited to covering the examples presented in the specification or their functional/structural equivalents.

Equivalents can be a little tricky to interpret, but the general rule is that substituting something like a chain drive for a belt drive is an equivalent, while substituting something like a spring for a latch is not.
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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by wdcfrog » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:15 pm

Seems detailed enough that Sea-Ray might be able to design around it. It was a nice exclusive feature for Cobalts, though - hopefully this doesn't discourage them from continuing to innovate.

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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by jhnmdahl » Wed May 20, 2015 10:54 am

It looks like Bryant Boats is getting in on the swim step game, but with a step that is permanently underwater rather than a folding step as in Cobalt's patent. Check out Bryant Boats' patent application at:

https://www.google.com/patents/US20140261133
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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by jhnmdahl » Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:11 pm

A year later, the district court lawsuit has been stayed pending inter partes review of the patent at the USPTO. Those truly interested or truly bored can read all about it at https://ptabtrials.uspto.gov by entering patent number 8375880.

Personally, I think it's 50/50 that Coblat emerges from this IPR with their patent intact, and unlikely that Searay is found to infringe even if the patent remains intact, but we shall see...
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Re: Cobalt sues Sea Ray over fold-down swim step

Post by Big Block Power » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:13 pm

Not bad after a year.I thought it's been going on long before that. There's always a loop hole somewhere.
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