On May 26, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a Rule 36 affirmance of a District Court judgment of non-infringement and invalidity that McKool Smith secured on behalf of Bush Hog, Inc., and parent company Alamo Group Inc., in defense of a patent infringement suit brought by Deere & Co. In a separate but related decision, the Federal Circuit also affirmed the District Court’s ruling which ordered Deere & Co. to pay approximately $500,000 of the legal costs incurred by Bush Hog, Duroc LLC, and Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc. in the underlying District Court litigation.
The original verdict was announced on December 19, 2013, after a 14-day jury trial before Judge Charles R. Wolle in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Davenport Division. The jury found that Bush Hog and Alamo Group did not infringe Deere & Co.’s rotary cutter patent and that the patent is invalid, rejecting the plaintiffs’ request for up to $16 million in damages from Bush Hog.
Deere & Co. originally filed the suit against Bush Hog LLC (now Duroc, LLC), the predecessor to Bush Hog, Inc., and Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc. in June 2009, claiming that products manufactured by the companies infringed U.S. Patent Number 6,052,980, which relates to dual-deck rotary cutters. In August 2011, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Wolle granted summary judgment of non-infringement in favor of the defendants; however, the case was revived by the Federal Circuit in December 2012.
“This has been a long, hard fight,” said McKool Smith principal Scott Hejny who served as lead appellate counsel for Bush Hog and Alamo Group. “Our client is very pleased with the Federal Circuit’s decision.”