It might be summer in North America but the relationship between Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo has gotten a lot cooler.
About a month ago the Canadian Federal Court ruled against Arctic Cat and awarded Ski-Doo approximately $135.00 (CDN) per snowmobile built over the past decade (beginning in 2014 and going backward) that uses patented technology the Canadian Federal Court Judge agrees is Ski-Doo’s property.
The number of snowmobiles affected (initially) is just under 21,000 units. In very rough terms this patent suit revolves around the pyramidal frame and engine cradle attached to the pyramidal frame.
Don’t get hung up on specifics because after reading the court’s statement we felt there was a lack of detail as to just exactly what this issue comes down to from a purely technical standpoint.
Let me make this statement again: This whole issue involves only Arctic Cat snowmobiles sold in Canada, not anywhere else.
It’s important to frame the issue with this reality. Here’s why. Part of the ruling states Arctic Cat dealers cannot sell any sleds in inventory (or build any more) that fall under the ruling. In fact, dealers can’t even use these snowmobiles.
From what we understand, Canadian Arctic Cat snowmobile dealers were sent notices from BRP requiring them to stop selling the applicable sleds. Further complicating the issue (if that’s possible!) is the reality the court has ordered Arctic Cat to present the number of units using Ski-Doo’s patented technology built and sold from MY 2014 to current. We assume this number will be added to the 21,000 units affected in the current ruling.
No doubt you have serious questions about how Ski-Doo will prevent Arctic Cat from selling snowmobiles in Canada. Dealers, in our opinion, are highly unlikely to “not sell” snowmobiles owned by their dealerships. In some cases this could cause irreparable harm to their businesses.
We contacted Textron and asked them for some clarity on this thorny issue and for a statement clarifying their official position so Arctic Cat owners and potential buyers can know what the future looks like. Here is Arctic Cat (Textron’s) statement released July 22, 2020:
“Arctic Cat Inc. respectfully disagrees with the court’s ruling. We will continue to provide service and support to our Canadian dealers and customers as we pursue further legal recourse in this matter, including appeals of the court’s decision and of any injunctions issued against the continued sale of our products in Canada. The ruling has no impact on sales through our U.S. dealers, distributors or retail outlets. We will have no further comment on this matter at this time.”
As of this writing there is likely much more going on legally between both of these industry giants. Textron is a near $15 billion company annually with reach into many diverse transportation businesses. BRP is a powerhouse powersports OEM with a reputation for innovation. This may come down to a battle of wallets.
We’ll update as more info becomes available.