Riddell, Inc. last week filed a lawsuit against Schutt Sports, Inc, claiming Schutt has infringed on three different patents arising from Riddell’s helmet and faceguard technologies.  The suit, which demands a jury trial, was filed Dec. 10, 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

According to a release issued by Riddell, the three-count federal court complaint identifies three Schutt helmet models that infringe upon Riddell’s patented technologies for football helmets and faceguards. Infringing products were identified by Riddell as Schutt helmets marketed under the “DNA,” “ION,” and “AIR XP” product names.

Riddell said the patents protect key technological features that offer wearers greater injury protection, performance and personal comfort. The suit alleges that Schutt has used Riddell’s technology without permission.  In court documents obtained by Sports Executive Weekly, in one claim Riddell suggests that the Schutt faceguards denoted by a Schutt style number that begins with “REV” infringe on the so-called ‘151 patent for faceguards that were “purposely” designed and marketed to fit the Riddell Revolution Helmet. 

Riddell’s newest addition to the Revolution line is the Revolution IQ HITS helmet, which uses on-board electronics to analyze impacts during play.  Riddell claims the Revolution line lessens a player’s chance of suffering a concussion by 31%.

In a statement, Riddell President Dan Arment said Riddell was committed to developing the best sports equipment for its customers and “we will protect our research and development legacy against any company trying to use Riddell technology in their products.”

The lawsuit asks the Court to prevent further patent infringement and to award damages and pay court fees to Riddell.  The filing does not indicate how much Riddell is seeking in damages, requesting only that compensation is adequate and awarded with “prejudgment interest.”
In a statement obtained by SEW, Schutt said it would respond with a “strong denial of all claims,” and calling the allegations “utterly false and without merit.”   They  also stated that it will issue “several” counterclaims.

“We intend to challenge the validity of the Riddell patents they have placed at issue and request injunctive relief from Riddell’s continued unfair business practices,” said Robert Erb, Schutt CEO. “[Arment] is now going to have to prove that [Riddell] has made patentable advancements in the art.  We suggest Mr. Arment put on a Schutt ION 4D helmet because the drubbing he is about to take is going to demand the very best in head protection.” 

The aforementioned ION 4D helmet was recently named the Best New Product of 2008 by the National Athletic Trainers Association. The ION 4D utilizes a cushioning system that Schutt says absorbs up to 55% more impact than the Riddell Revolution.