US Customs Rules for Navico in Patent-Infringing Case Against Garmin


Navico, parent company to the Lowrance, Simrad and B&G brands announced that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has ruled in Navico’s favor with regard to the company’s ongoing litigation with Garmin. The 47-page ruling addresses Garmin’s “tilted” DownVü transducer design with CBP ultimately ruling on June 5, 2017 that these products are not admissible into the United States.

This ruling comes on the heels of an Enforcement Initial Determination (EID) filed by an International Trade Commission (ITC) Administrative Law Judge on May 25, 2017, which found that Garmin violated the cease-and-desist orders issued in 2015 regarding the importation and sale of products featuring tilted DownVü scanning sonar technology. Like the EID, CBP has also found that Garmin’s tilted DownVü products infringe on Navico’s DownScan Imaging patents. The ruling means that all affected products will be stopped at the US borders.

“We are very pleased that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has ruled in our favour,” says Leif Ottosson, CEO, Navico. “CBP is tasked with facilitating lawful trade, and this ruling – independent from the ITC – further reinforces our claims that Garmin has been marketing and selling patent-infringing products. This again sends a clear message to Garmin that they may not import the offending products. The CBP ruling puts the historic US $37 million fine assessed by the ITC Administrative Law Judge into further context.”

Garmin sought the ruling from CBP relating to the DownVü products after Garmin had introduced its new ClearVü sonar technology to the market. Unlike ClearVü, the DownVü design includes a downward-looking element, which produces a better image beneath the boat. In the US, the ClearVü design compiles data from the side-scanning elements in the transducer to mimic a scanning image beneath the boat, which reduces clarity and range, degrades the appearance of targets and misses some targets entirely.

Navico has posted a controversial side-by-side video comparison of Garmin’s ClearVü technology compared to its patented DownScan Imaging, eliciting an assortment of feedback from viewers (https://youtu.be/s1ll1q6WHkk).

Outside of the US, Navico says Garmin sells products with the ‘tilted’ element design under the ClearVü name. Navico says it also holds DownScan patents in the EU and Australia similar to its US patents. Based on these recent US rulings, Navico says it expects Garmin to cease selling the ‘tilted’ transducer design in those jurisdictions.