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Kawasaki Sues Bombardier Over Watercraft Patents (Update1)

By Jeff St.Onge
Oct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Jet Ski personal watercraft, sued Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., claiming it infringed five U.S. patents in making its competing Sea-Doo brand products.
Kawasaki said yesterday in its complaint that Bombardier is using its patented technology on parts including hulls and hatch covers. As many as 11 Bombardier models use its small-watercraft innovations without permission, Hyogo, Japan-based Kawasaki said.
The company asked a federal court in Texarkana, Texas, to ``order the impounding and destruction of all defendants' products that infringe'' any of the five patents. It asked the court to block Bombardier from selling products using the technology and to award damages that would be as much as tripled if the infringement is found to be deliberate.
Bombardier was the top seller of personal watercraft in the U.S. last year, according to the Personal Watercraft Industry Association. Kawasaki ranked third. Yamaha Motor Co., a maker of products under the WaveRunnner brand, was second in U.S. sales, the Washington-based group said. Overall, sales of personal watercraft topped $761.5 million last year, with 80,200 sold.
Valcourt, Canada-based Bombardier Recreational Products was spun off from Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. in 2003. The closely held company was sold to a corporation formed by Bain Capital LLC, members of the Bombardier family and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.
First Personal Watercraft
Bombardier Recreational Products' BRP-US unit, also named as a defendant, is based in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, according to the complaint.
Pierre Pichette, a spokesman for Bombardier Recreational Products, wasn't immediately available for comment, according to his assistant.
Bombardier Inc., the world's biggest maker of trains and small jetliners, wasn't named as a defendant.
Bombardier Recreational Products was first to introduce personal watercraft in the late 1960s, and Kawasaki's Jet Ski brand was the first commercially successful brand, the watercraft industry group said.
Kawasaki's U.S. units, based in Irvine, California, and in Lincoln, Nebraska, make personal watercraft in the U.S., according to the complaint.
Kawasaki's shares fell 11 Yen to 399 Yen in Tokyo.
The case is Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. v. Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., 5:06-cv-00222, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Texarkana).
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff St.Onge in Washington at .
Last Updated: October 4, 2006 15:03 EDT