ZUP, LLC v. Nash Manufacturing, Inc., No. 17-1601 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Nash has been in the water recreational device industry for more than 50 years and designs and manufactures water skis, kneeboards, wakeboards, and similar recreational devices. ZUP entered the market in 2012 with its “ZUP Board,” designed to assist riders who have difficulty pulling themselves up out of the water into a standing position while being towed behind a motorboat. ZUP owns the 681 patent, which includes 12 claims that generally cover a water recreational board and a method of riding that board in which a rider simultaneously uses side-by-side handles and side-by-side foot bindings to help maneuver between various riding positions to allow the rider to more readily move from lying prone, to kneeling, to crouching, to standing. The district court invalidated claims 1 and 9 as obvious and, in the alternative, held that Nash does not infringe claim 9. The Federal Circuit affirmed that claims 1 and 9 are invalid as obvious, 35 U.S.C. 103(a), and did not reach the infringement question. One of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the various elements from prior art references, “to aid in rider stability, to allow a wide variety of users to enjoy the device, and to aid users in maneuvering between positions”—all motivations that were “a driving force throughout the prior art."