Deere’s Wirtgen wins $12.9 million from Caterpillar in road-construction patent trial

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 9:05 PM

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) – Deere & Co subsidiary Wirtgen America convinced a federal jury in Delaware on Thursday that construction rival Caterpillar must pay $12.9 million in damages for violating its patent rights in road-building technology.

The jury determined that Caterpillar’s road-milling machines, which remove the surfaces of roads before repaving them, infringe five Wirtgen patents, a spokesperson for Wirtgen’s law firm Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox said.

The jury also found that Caterpillar’s infringement was willful, which could lead a judge to multiply the damages up to three times.

A Caterpillar spokesperson said that the company respects the jury’s decision and will review its legal options.

Wirtgen said in its 2017 lawsuit that it owns a “large majority” of the U.S. road-milling machine market, while Caterpillar is a “minor player.” Wirtgen accused Caterpillar of infringing its patents related to “cold milling,” a technology used for rehabilitating road surfaces, and requested an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.

The company separately accused Caterpillar’s machines of infringing its patents in a case before the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ITC banned imports of the machines in 2019, though U.S. Customs and Border Protection allowed redesigned versions to enter the country starting in 2021.

Caterpillar argued in the Delaware case that its machines do not employ Wirtgen’s patented technology and that the patents are invalid. It has also countersued Wirtgen for infringing its own road-milling patents.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; Editing by David Bario and Chizu Nomiyama and Miral Fahmy)