United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
METALCRAFT OF MAYVILLE, Inc., d/b/a SCAG POWER EQUIPMENT, Plaintiff,
THE TORO COMPANY and EXMARK MANUFACTURING, Inc., Defendants.
DECISION AND ORDER
RUDOLPH T. RANDA U.S. District Judge
of Mayville, Inc., d/b/a Scag Power Equipment, moves for a
preliminary injunction precluding The Toro Company and Exmark
Manufacturing Co., Inc., from making, using, selling, and
offering to sell lawnmowers equipped with platform suspension
systems that infringe Scag’s patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,
186, 475. This motion is granted on the condition that Scag
posts adequate security. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(c).
1986, M craft of Mayville purchased Scag, one of the
world’s largest independent manufacturers of commercial
mowing equipment. M craft manufactures Scag mowers in plants
located in Mayville and West Bend, Wisconsin.
of riding lawnmowers involved in commercial enterprises, such
as landscaping and golf course maintenance, often operate the
mowers for extended periods of time, day after day. This can
be physically debilitating due to the mowers being driven
across uneven terrain.
2010, Scag developed a suspended operator platform that
greatly improved over existing prior art cushioning systems,
many of which focused upon seat suspensions. These seat
suspension configurations, however, left the operator
susceptible to vibrations, shocks, and forces being
transmitted through other components of the lawnmower, such
as footrests. In order to better insulate the operator, Scag
developed a suspended operator platform, which is disclosed
and claimed in the ‘475 patent. The operator seat is
mounted on a suspended operator platform that has the ability
to absorb and damp shock impulses. The operator platform is
attached via a linkage and shock absorption system to the
frame of the lawnmower.
after developing this technology, Scag commercialized the
system disclosed and claimed in the ‘475 patent,
offering the suspended operator platform as a feature in its
newly created Cheetah line consisting of lawnmowers with
various sizes of cutting decks, i.e., 48”, 52”,
61”, and 72”. Scag’s website explains that
the “entire operator platform (seat and foot plate) are
suspended to deliver a smooth ride, with only three moving
parts.” Since its introduction in 2010, Scag has sold
about 15, 000 Cheetah units, generating gross revenue of
about $30 million.
sells its lawnmowers, including its Cheetah line, to
distributors who in turn sell to dealers. Scag estimates that
there are around 1100 dealers in its network. Dealers
typically carry products from multiple manufacturers, so it
is not uncommon for Scag lawnmowers to compete head-to-head
on the dealer floor with competitors’ lawnmowers,
including Toro and Exmark lawnmowers. All three companies
also have significant web presences, including web sites that
tout the features and other aspects of their products.
2015, both Exmark and Toro introduced a mower with a
suspended operator platform to compete with Scag’s
Cheetah line. Exmark announced a limited launch in a July 1,
2015 press release. Because of customer demand, Exmark
subsequently announced in an October 21, 2015 press release
that it was expanding the suspended operator platform for
2016 to additional lawnmower models. Exmark touts its
suspended platform on the “Recent Innovations”
page on its website. A promotional video provides a
demonstration of the Exmark suspended platform system.
November 2, 2015, Toro similarly announced the introduction
of “the all-new MyRIDE™ suspension system
available on select Toro® Z-Master® zero-turn
mowers.” Toro’s website also features a
promotional video showing a detailed demonstration of the
MyRIDE suspension system.
obtain a preliminary injunction, a party must show that it is
likely to succeed on the merits, that it is likely to suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that
the balance of equities tips in its favor, and that an
injunction is in the public interest. See Luminara
Worldwide, LLC v. Liown Elecs. Co. Ltd., 814 F.3d 1343,
1352 (Fed. Cir. 2016); Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). “No one factor, taken
individually, is necessarily dispositive. … [T]he
weakness of the showing regarding one factor may be overborne
by the strength of others.” FMC Corp. v. United
States, 3 F.3d 424, 427 (Fed. Cir. 1993). However,
“a movant cannot be granted a preliminary injunction
unless it establishes both of the first two factors,
i.e., likelihood of success on the merits and
irreparable harm.” Amazon.com, Inc. v.
Barnesandnoble.com, Inc., 239 F.3d 1343, 1350 (Fed. Cir.
2001) (emphasis in original). In that respect, there is no
longer an “express presumption of irreparable harm upon
a finding that a plaintiff [is] likely to succeed on the
merits of a patent infringement claim.” Robert
Bosch LLC v. Pylon Mfg. Corp., 659 F.3d 1142, 1148 (Fed.
Cir. 2011) (discussing eBay Inc. v. MercExchange,
LLC, 547 U.S. 388 (2006)).
Likelihood of success
accused infringer “raises a substantial question
concerning either infringement or validity, ” then the
patentee “has not established that it is likely to
succeed on the merits, and a preliminary injunction is not
appropriate.” LifeScan ...