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U.S. District Court, Worcester, Massachusetts

The plaintiff in this case was a Lacrosse stick manufacturer holding two patents for an innovative stick design. The plaintiff contended that the defendant had willfully infringed on the plaintiff’s patented design and in doing so, had usurped profits which rightfully belonged to the plaintiff. The defendant contended that their design was not similar enough to violate the plaintiff’s patent.

The plaintiff was the designer/manufacturer of an innovative Lacrosse stick for which the plaintiff held two patents. The plaintiff’s Lacrosse stick had a lower center of gravity which enhances players’ ability to feel the orientation of the stick head. The plaintiff’s "Edge Offset(tm) Head" became a hotly sought after product soon after its arrival in the marketplace in ________, and was widely used by amateur and professional Lacrosse players alike. Further, the stick won a Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant began to market three sticks that were copies of the "Edge Offset(tm) Head" in ________. The defendant’s sticks incorporated an offset head with lowered sidewalls and lower centerline just as p 7 3 the plaintiff’s patented stick did. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s products infringed on the plaintiff’s patents.

At trial, the plaintiff presented a mechanical engineer who testified that he had measured the plaintiff’s and defendant’s Lacrosse sticks to establish the actual center of gravity, the centerline of the shaft, and the curve on the sidewall. The plaintiff’s engineer stated that the measurements were so similar that they proved the defendant’s infringement on the plaintiff’s design.

The plaintiff presented several Lacrosse players familiar with both parties’ products who testified that in their opinion, the plaintiff’s innovative design revolutionized the industry as soon as it came out. These witnesses stated that the plaintiff’s product was particularly sought after and dominated the market until the defendant’s product came out. The plaintiff also presented a damages expert who determined the relative market shares of the two companies to determine profit margins. The plaintiff’s expert concluded that the plaintiff would have sold 85% of the infringing products sold by the defendant if the infringing products had not been available. The plaintiff’s expert set the plaintiff’s lost profits in the range of $2.7 to $2.8 million.

The defendant argued that it had not willfully infringed on the plaintiff’s design patents. The defendant noted that the plaintiff’s patent referred to an "abruptly descending" head, whereas the defendant claimed that the head of its stick was made up of only a "gradually descending" head. The defendant called as a witness the industrial designer who created the defendant’s sticks to corroborate the differences between the plaintiff’s and defendant’s products.

The jury concluded that the defendant had willfully infringed on the plaintiff’s patent and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.9 million in damages.

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