Johnson Outdoors Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Navico

Johnson Outdoors Inc., manufacturer of Humminbird marine electronics, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Navico Inc. concerning Navico's sale of the Lowrance LSS-1 StructureScan Imaging System.

Racine, WI-based Johnson Outdoors states that US Patent No. 7,652,952 protects Side Imaging sonar technology used in its Humminbird-branded fish finders. The company says its sonar produces detailed and recognizable images of underwater objects and waterbeds, enabling anglers to pinpoint habitat, structure and drop offs which are prime holding areas for fish. The patent application process is said to have began in 2004 prior to the company's introduction of Side Imaging sonar in Humminbird 900 series fishfinder models the following year.

“Our intellectual property policy is very simple: we will respect the property of others and fiercely protect that of our own. We were diligent throughout the Side Imaging sonar technology patent application process to ensure we achieved both because real innovation brings real value which our customers and consumers expect and demand. By taking steps to protect our ideas and inventions, we help ensure our ability to continue to bring forward meaningful advances and innovative products that excite consumers and build our customers' business,” said Kelly Grindle, Group Vice President Marine Electronics & Watercraft.

In a press release dated January 27, Tulsa, OK-based Navico re-affirmed that its LSS-1 StructureScan sonar imaging module option – compatible with HDS fishfinder/chartplotter multifunction displays – will continue to be sold, distributed and fully supported worldwide. “We are confident,” said Louis Chemi, COO for Navico Americas, “in the uniqueness and value of Lowrance LSS-1 StructureScan sonar imaging. We also wish to assure our customers that the worldwide sale and distribution of StructureScan sonar imaging will absolutely continue as planned with full Lowrance support for years to come. Navico will vigorously defend the recent legal proceedings initiated by Johnson Outdoors.”

Lowrance introduced the LSS-1 StructureScan sonar imaging on at the Bassmaster Classic Expo, held in Shreveport, LA, in February 2009. Additional details, including the DownScan Imaging feature for Lowrance HDS displays, were revealed at the International Convention of Sportfishing Trades (ICAST), held in Orlando, FL in July 2009.

Johnson Outdoors is scheduled to release its first quarter financial results on Friday, February 5, 2010.