In September of 2015, Navico first informed Garmin that its tilted “design around” infringes Navico’s patents for DownScan Imaging technology. On December 1, 2015, in accordance with normal International Trade Commission practice, the Commission informed Garmin that, “if Garmin intends to import its [new] products into the United States, it should use established procedures at the Commission or U.S. Customs and Border Protection to obtain a ruling as to whether such products infringe the relevant patents.” The Commission repeated this same point in its new ruling issued on August 18, 2016.
This means that legally it is up to Garmin to seek approval of the tilted design – they have known this officially since the December 1 Commission ruling, and the Commission has now reiterated this. Garmin has elected not to do so for reasons that we can only speculate.
In its press release dated August 29, 2016, Garmin states to the public that, even under the Commission’s August 18th modified order, “Garmin can import and sell Garmin DownVü scanning sonar transducers.” This is incorrect. In reality, on August 24, 2016 Garmin filed an emergency motion to the Commission acknowledging that “Garmin’s tilted redesign is now being excluded,” asking that the decision be reversed. The fact is the redesign is properly being excluded because Garmin is infringing Navico’s patents and because Garmin has not even attempted to obtain a ruling for the tilted design.
In the next couple of months, we believe the situation will become even clearer that our statement from August 25 is correct. The Commission has now twice ruled in Navico’s favor, and there is no doubt that Garmin has infringed Navico’s patents for DownScan Imaging technology. We view Garmin’s latest statement the same as its press release from July of 2015 where Garmin made assertions that our claims of infringement were baseless and unfounded.
Regardless of Garmin’s comments and the inconsistency between their public statement and their filing with the Commission, it all comes down to the simple fact that Garmin is infringing Navico’s DownScan Imaging technology and the resulting exclusion of its products will affect distributors, dealers and retailers.