Bennett Marine files patent infringement lawsuit

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Trim tab manufacturer Bennett Marine has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Rinker Boat Co. in excess of $1 million, alleging it violated a patent owned by Bennett for its Auto Tab Retractor, it reported in a recent statement.

The product being installed by Rinker is manufactured by Lenco Marine, of Stuart, Fla., Bennett reported. However, as the patent is written, it is also a violation of the patent when a boat builder installs the product and sells it to the public, according to Bennett.

The suit filed against Rinker follows a recent ruling by United States District Judge Kenneth Marra, who issued a decision on May 30, rejecting Lenco Marine’s assertion that Bennett’s patent for the Auto Tab Retractor did not apply to electric trim tabs. (No. 04-60326-CIV-Marra.), stated Bennett. Called a Markman Order, the ruling clears the way for the lawsuit to move to trial, Bennett claimed.

“This is the last thing we wanted,” said Blake Bennett, president of Bennett Marine, Inc. “But after repeated requests to stop installing the product in a manner that violated our patent, we were left with few alternatives.”

The Auto Tab Retractor is a device that retracts the trim tabs when the ignition is turned to the “off” position. Bennett developed the product and was granted a patent in 1992, according to the company. Bennett said it has successfully defended the patent with several trim tab manufacturers in the past, including a settlement with Lenco Marine in 2003.

The Markman Order can be downloaded at

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