Fish & Richardson Secures Favorable Jury Verdict for Seirus in Design Patent Battle Against Columbia Sportswear

After a three-day trial, a San Diego jury has returned a verdict that Seirus Innovative Accessories, a Poway, California-based company represented by Fish & Richardson, did not infringe Columbia Sportswear's design patent with its HeatWave line of snow sports products, concluding an eight-year litigation campaign launched by Columbia over competing cold-weather gear and heat-reflective fabric.

"We are pleased that Seirus prevailed against Columbia's claims of patent infringement," said Chris Marchese, trial counsel for Seirus and a principal in Fish's Southern California office. "Seirus is a small, family-run business, and this has been a difficult process for them."

Columbia first sued Seirus in 2013 in federal court in Washington, alleging infringement of its design patent by the HeatWave fabric included within Seirus' HeatWave products. Seirus' HeatWave fabric uses a silver heat-reflective material that partially covers a dark base layer of fabric with an original Seirus design that repeatedly includes Seirus' stylized logo within a matched box. Columbia refiled the case in 2015 in federal court in Oregon and added two utility patents directed to partial coverage of heat-reflective materials on fabrics. Prior to trial, the Oregon court entered judgment that the design patent was not invalid and granted summary judgment of infringement of the design patent. The remaining questions for trial were liability and damages based on the utility patents and damages for the design patent.

After Fish was hired, and just weeks before trial, Seirus won a motion to transfer the case from Oregon to the Southern District of California, where Seirus is located. On the eve of trial, Columbia withdrew one of the utility patents. And after a two-week trial handled by Fish in 2017 in San Diego, a jury returned a verdict that the asserted claims of the utility patent were invalid as anticipated and obvious, awarded just over $3 million for adjudged infringement of the design patent, and found against Columbia on its claim of willful infringement.

Both parties appealed. In 2019, Fish argued the appeal at the Federal Circuit and secured a complete victory for Seirus, with the court maintaining that the utility patent claims were invalid, reversing the district court's summary judgment finding of infringement on the design patent, and remanding for a jury trial to determine one issue: whether the HeatWave fabric infringed the design patent. The jury this month found that it did not.

"To say we are elated is an understatement," said Mike Carey, founder and CEO of Seirus. "Every single Seirus employee is thankful for the team at Fish & Richardson who worked tirelessly to vindicate us from these claims so we can continue to focus on our innovative HeatWave products."

The Fish trial team also included Seth Sproul, Tucker Terhufen, and John Thornburgh. Since Fish became involved in August 2017, Seirus has prevailed on all patent issues Columbia asserted against Seirus.

The case is Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v. Seirus Innovative Accessories in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.