Kubota Corp. (NYSE: KUB) and Kubota Tractor Corp. do not infringe on a Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) patent covering implement suspension mechanisms for lawn and garden tractors, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The appellate court issued its decision on July 17, 2003, affirming the district court's earlier judgment. Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorneys William Streff, David Callahan, Paul Steadman, and Joseph Jacobi successfully represented Kubota in the appellate and district court proceedings.
The case began when Deere brought suit against Kubota Corp., a Japanese company, and its U.S. affiliate, Kubota Tractor Corp., in the U.S. District Court in Rock Island, Ill., in April 1999. The lawsuit alleged that the implement suspension mechanism designed to ensure even grass cuts and to allow the easy installation of implements such as a mower deck on Kubota's TG-1860 lawn and garden tractors and certain other models infringed a Deere patent. Kubota vigorously opposed the suit. Deere was seeking approximately $75 million in total damages.
On April 5, 2002, after a two and a half-week trial, the jury found in favor of Kubota, ruling that the Kubota implement suspension mechanism did not infringe the patent. Deere then filed an appeal on Sept. 9, 2002, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals involving patents. The case was argued on July 8, 2003, and affirmed by the appellate court on July 17, 2003. The deadline for requesting rehearing from the Court of Appeals has now expired.
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