Caterpillar to pay Wirtgen $12.9m in damages after patent battle

La fresadora compacta W 150 Fi. A Wirtgen cold milling machine (Photo: Wirtgen)

Deere & Co subsidiary Wirtgen has won around US12.9 million in damages from Caterpillar after a legal dispute over patent rights in road-building technology.

A federal jury in Delaware, US, last week determined that Caterpillar’s road-milling machines had infringed five of six Wirtgen patents.

The jury also found that Caterpillar’s infringement was “wilful”, which could lead to a judge multiplying the damages by up to three times.

Wirtgen launched a lawsuit in 2017 and accused Caterpillar of infringing its patents related to cold milling technology used for rehabilitating road surfaces. It requested an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.

The company separately accused Caterpillar’s machines of infringing its patents in a case before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

The ITC banned imports of the machines in 2019, though U.S. Customs and Border Protection allowed redesigned versions to enter the country starting in 2021.

Caterpillar argued in the Delaware case that its machines do not employ Wirtgen’s patented technology and that the patents are invalid. It has also countersued Wirtgen for infringing its own road-milling patents.

Following the Delaware jury’s decision, a spokesperson for law firms Patterson Intellectual Property and Sterne Kessler Goldstein and Fox, which jointly represented Wirtgen said, “Wirtgen America appreciates the finding by the jury as it confirms the importance of intellectual property.”

A Caterpillar spokesperson said that the company respects the jury’s decision and will review its legal options.

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