8 December 2000

Caterpillar wins patents case

CATERPILLAR has won a major victory in a lawsuit claiming that John Deeres rubber tracked crawler tractors infringe Caterpillar Challenger patents.

The lawsuit, part of an international legal action to defend Caterpillar patents, was heard in Germany but the decision is effective in all EC countries including the UK. Caterpillar is also taking similar legal action in the US and has welcomed a recent decision that this action will be referred to a Chicago court for a jury trial.

The patent infringement allegations upheld by the German court refer to technical features of the drive mechanism used in John Deeres rubber tracked crawler tractors, and not to the tracks themselves.

This means that Case IH and Morooka, the other established manufacturers of crawler tractors with rubber tracks, are not affected by the judgement against John Deere, according to Jim Brophy, general manager of Claas-Caterpillar Europe, the jointly owned company formed to oversee Claas and Caterpillars mutual interests in Europe.

The German decision to uphold the legal action leaves Caterpillar with the option of charging a royalty on each John Deere crawler tractor sold in Europe, but they could also ask the courts to ban John Deere from selling tractors that infringe the patents until the drive mechanism has been modified.

Problems for John Deere? Caterpillars legal action to prove that patents have been infringed in the track drive system has been upheld.