Focus Sues Brands Over Patent

Canadian lawsuit threatens ten board companies.

The Canadian snowboard factory Focus Manufacturing filed suit against ten different snowboard brands in Canada at the end of July over patent infringement. The case, filed by the Laval, Quebec firm of Brunshcwig Pillet named Amer Sports (Oxygen), Burton, Excurtion Extreme (Zoopla), Forum and its Canadian distributor Nubile Distribution, K2, Monark Sporting Goods (Elan), Option, Salomon, and Skis Dynastar (Original Sin) as defendants.

The story of the patent is as interesting as what it says. The patent (number 2,148,077) was originally filed May 4, 1995 by Louis Fournier and was titled “Improved Snowboard And New Process For Making Such Snowboard”. In October of 1995, Fournier transferred the patent to the company Industries Esthetes, which declared bankruptcy in 1998 and handed all rights, titles, and interests (including the patent) to Focus Manufacturing. On December 7, 1999, the patent was finally issued.

In the lawsuit, Focus has asked for a permanent injunction enjoining the defendants to cease infringing on the patent by way of manufacturing, distributing, and selling products. It also orders the defendants to hand over to the plaintiff or to destroy infringing products, orders defendants to pay damages, and pay an indemnity for infringing products sold from November 5, 1996 to December 7, 1999.

The patent claims to have improved upon the design of a snowboard by having the following characteristics: “A snowboard comprising of an elongated body having a lower gliding surface and upper surface, … with a body comprising of successive layers of materials including … a wood core between the layer having fibers of traction and the lower layer that extends over the whole length and whole width of the center portion and the curved ends of the body.”

Although some are speculating that the infringement suit would be centered around the idea that the patent covers a full-length woodcore in a snowboard, the defendants are currently investigating the claim and preparing their defenses.

The lawyers representing Focus were not available for comment at this time. SNOWboarding Business will update this story as information becomes available.