Brunswick Corporation announced that it had 126 United States patents granted to the Company during 2018, up nearly a third from its 2017 results and nearly twice as many as it was awarded in 2015. Brunswick, which had earned a spot among the top 25 Illinois companies receiving the most number of patents in 2015, 2016 and 2017 according to Crain’s Chicago Business, thus continues its momentum of innovation.
All Brunswick divisions – marine engine, boat and fitness — contributed to this record-breaking innovation output, with Mercury Marine and Life Fitness accounting for a significant portion of the patents awarded during 2018.
“What is particularly gratifying is how our Company continues to successfully translate these technological advances into new and improved products for the recreational markets which we serve,” explained Brunswick Chief Executive Officer David Foulkes. “For example, a large number of the patents earned by Mercury Marine were related to its unprecedented release of nearly 20 next-generation V-8 and V-6 FourStroke outboard engine models during 2018, a collection of engines that not only extend and fortify our product and technological leadership in propulsion and systems within the global marine industry, but also are proving very popular in the marketplace.”
Further, during 2018, Mercury Marine, the marine engine manufacturer based in Fond du Lac, Wis., garnered a record 88 patents, an increase of nearly 25 percent from its 2017 results. These included such advances as further enhancements to Mercury’s station keeping system, which automatically keeps a boat in a particular location without the pilot needing to manually adjust, as well as improvements to its popular joystick control system, which makes piloting a boat more intuitive.
“Fitness acquired 28 patents during 2018, reflecting our continuing emphasis on enriching our competitive advantages while providing exercisers throughout the world with the most effective and enjoyable experience,” added Foulkes, who had served as Brunswick’s chief technology officer since 2014, until the start of 2019 when he was promoted and assumed his CEO duties.
“The fitness patents applied to various strength and cardio products, including an energy absorbing weight bar support, which helps cushion the impact of heavy weights to protect the exercise equipment from damage. The industry-leading Life Fitness User Interface is also now patented,” Foulkes explained.
“During 2018 the Brunswick Boat Group not only doubled the number of patents it received in 2017, but also recorded its highest number of patents received annually in each of the past five years. We continue to receive patent protection on a myriad of features focused on boating comfort, convenience and safety – all to enhance the boater’s experience,” Foulkes said. “Additionally, Brunswick’s innovation has extended beyond the boat’s features and performance to how we build our boats, with improved patented manufacturing processes.”
“These patents earned throughout our Company reflect our broader commitment to expand our industry-leading, consumer-focused technology portfolio. We continually seek to develop and offer innovative customer solutions that we will effectively bring to market at an ever-increasing pace,” Foulkes added.
Expanding efforts for innovation
To augment the considerable research and development activity that Brunswick currently conducts across all its primary lines of business, in 2017 the Company established the Brunswick I-JET Lab in the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Inspired by the students and the staff who work there, the facility’s name embraces the acronym for Brunswick Illini – Joint Explorations in Technology lab.
The Brunswick I-JET Lab works closely with Brunswick corporate and divisional resources to further accelerate Brunswick’s progress in areas of interest, including the Internet of Things, advanced analytics, and a range of human-machine interaction and enhanced user-experience technologies.
Also, in 2017, with innovation and development in mind, Brunswick and Chicago-based TechNexus Venture Collaborative formed a joint venture to identify and advance transformative innovation to unlock new growth opportunities. Among other services, the joint venture provides diligence, incubation, direction and ongoing collaboration to aid and ensure development of those receiving investment. The venture has made several investments during the past two years.
“Though our thrust continues to be in support of new products and enhancements of existing products, we continue to expand our efforts in the fields of collaborative research and strengthening and deepening our pool of talent. We believe that a robust R&D effort provides a platform to support creativity and innovation throughout the organization,” Foulkes concluded.
Headquartered in Mettawa, IL, Brunswick Corporation’s leading consumer brands include Mercury Marine outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; Mercury global parts and accessories including propellers, and SmartCraft electronics; Power Products Integrated Solutions; MotorGuide trolling motors; Attwood, Garelick and Whale marine parts; Land ’N’ Sea, BLA, Payne’s Marine, Kellogg Marine & Lankhorst Taselaar marine parts distribution; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils; Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Brunswick Commercial and Government Products, Crestliner, Cypress Cay, Harris, Lowe, Lund, Princecraft, Quicksilver, Rayglass, Sea Ray, Thunder Jet and Uttern boats; Life Fitness, Hammer Strength, Cybex, Indoor Cycling Group and SCIFIT fitness equipment; and Brunswick billiards tables, accessories and game room furniture.