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Polaris accuses Arctic Cat of violating a patent for an ATV

  • Article by: Dee DePass
  • Star Tribune
  • December 24, 2013 - 9:08 PM

Two Minnesota recreational ­vehicle giants are locked in a battle over patents involving two-seater “side-by-side” ATVs.

Medina-based Polaris Industries sued Plymouth-based Arctic Cat on Friday for allegedly violating “patent no. 8,596,405,” which involves a ­version of Polaris’ side-by-side all-terrain-vehicle, or ATV.

Arctic Cat, which could not be reached for comment, has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Polaris has produced versions of its two-seater side-by-side Ranger vehicle since the late 1990s. ­However, the term didn’t become commonplace in the ATV industry until around 2005, when Polaris began work on its Ranger RZR. It formally launched the Ranger RZR into the marketplace in 2007.

“The Ranger was such a success that many other recreation vehicle manufacturers also began offering side-by-side off-road vehicles,” Polaris said in its lawsuit.

According to court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Polaris filed patent applications for its side-by-side ATVs in 2006, with an update in 2010. The U.S. patent office officially approved the Polaris patent application on Dec. 3.

The suit argues that Arctic Cat still manufacturers and sells its Wildcat side-by-side ATVs, “which infringe the ‘405’ patent.”

Neither company’s officials were available for comment ­Tuesday.

In 2007, industry analysts noted that Arctic Cat was a late comer to the craze for side-by-side-styled ATVs. The style was adopted throughout the ­industry and helped to drive ATV sales for several years.

Arctic Cat produced side-by-side vehicles under the names Wildcat and Prowler. It sold a version of a two-seater Prowler in 2005, but the use was more for utility purposes than sport.

Arctic Cat, which generated $690 million in revenue last year, has struggled in recent years but recently has ­produced stronger earnings.

Polaris, which also makes motorcycles and electric cars in addition to ATVs and snowmobiles, generated $3.6 billion in revenue last year. It is on pace for $4 billion this year.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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