Cobalt Boats, based in Neodesha, Kansas, has won a small victory surrounding its patent on its Swim Step platform, introduced in 2011. The US Patent and Trademark Office recently upheld the validity of several claims of its Swim Step patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,375,880).
Cobalt’s Swim Step feature flips down from a stored position within a rear swim platform to a deployed position below the water surface. The feature allows boaters can lounge on the step and use it to access the boat instead of traditional boarding ladders.
In 2015, Cobalt sued Brunswick Corp. and Sea Ray Boats (a Brunswick brand) in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia asserting that Brunswick had begun promoting and selling boats with a ‘submersible swim step’ that allegedly infringes Cobalt’s Swim Step patent.
In response, Brunswick petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the US Patent Office to invalidate all of the claims of the patent.
Following an 18-month review, the PTAB issued its final written decision on September 28. In that decision, the PTAB found Brunswick had “failed to establish” that several of the claims were un-patentable, enabling Cobalt to move forward with its lawsuit against Brunswick.
Now that the PTAB has ruled in its favour, “Cobalt looks forward to enforcing its patent rights,” says Cobalt Boats CEO, Paxson St. Clair. “We are proud of our ingenuity and believe our intellectual property rights should be respected.”