A federal appeals court has thrown out a more-than $24 million jury verdict in a patent infringement case that favored a Beatrice manufacturer.
Exmark Manufacturing, which makes lawnmowers, had alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group and Schiller Grounds Care Inc. were manufacturing mowers that infringed on a patent for multiblade mowers equipped with baffles between blades that allow the mower to be converted from a mulching to a side-discharge mower.
After a 2015 trial in U.S. District Court, a jury decided that Briggs & Stratton had willfully infringed on Exmark's patent and awarded the Beatrice company nearly $24.3 million, an amount the court doubled because of the willful infringement involved.
A three-judge appeals court panel, however, ruled last week that the District Court judge in the case erred when he dismissed a Briggs & Stratton claim that the Exmark patent in question was not valid.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel also threw out the damages award because it said an expert employed by Exmark did not provide an adequate explanation as to how she came up with a 5 percent royalty rate figure on which the jury relied in calculating damages.
Both issues were remanded back to the District Court for reconsideration, including a potential new trial.
A spokesman for Briggs & Stratton declined to comment on the ruling. Officials from Exmark could not be reached for comment.