Schutt Sports Sues Riddell Over Football Helmet Patent Infringement
Orange County – On May 18th 2017, Kranos Corp, operating as Schutt Sports, filed a lawsuit against Riddell Inc. for patent infringement. The two companies are market rivals in the football helmet design and manufacturing industry. Schutt Sports claims that Riddell has infringed three different helmet designs. Schutt is seeking an injunction as well as an undisclosed amount in damages.
Robert Erb, president and CEO of Schutt, in a statement to the news and posted again on the Kranos Corporation website, states that they “take the violation of our intellectual property right seriously” and goes on to assert that Schutt would “vigorously defend” its patent rights from competitors who use its technology without permission. This obviously includes its chief rival Riddell.
This is not the first time these two companies have faced each other in court. In 2008, the tables were turned as Riddell sued Schutt for patent infringement. After two years of litigation, in August of 2010, a jury awarded $29 million to Riddell. After the case, Schutt was forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A month later, Platinum Equity acquired Schutt at auction for just over $33 million.
Then, again, in 2016, Riddell filed a lawsuit against Schutt for patent infringement. This time specifically alleging that Schutt’s Vengence, ION4D, Air XP, and DNA helmets were all patent infringements. Schutt responded by accusing Riddel of violating patents as well. In an interview with Erb, he said that he believed that Riddell’s lawsuit had “no merit.” He went on to state that Riddell was making a desperate attempt to attack the market while it faces a myriad of challenges within the business. In February of 2017, Riddell asked an Illinois federal court not to pause the lawsuit while the Patent Trial and Appeal board reviewed the patents in issue. They claim that Schutt is just trying to delay the proceedings. That case is still ongoing.
The two companies are the two largest football helmet manufactures in the United States. Between both companies, they comprise the vast majority of football helmet sales across national professional, collegiate, and high school leagues. Riddle is responsible for more than 60% of all helmets worn by football players in the nation. Similarly, 37% of all football players wear Schutt helmets.