An Illinois jury unanimously ruled in favor of Kubota Tractor Corp., Torrance, Calif., in the patent action previously filed against Kubota by John Deere & Co.

Deere filed its suit against Kubota Corp. and Kubota Tractor Corp. in the U.S. Federal District Court in Rock Island, Ill., in April 1999, alleging that the implement suspension mechanism on Kubota's TG-1860 lawn and garden tractors and certain other models infringed a Deere patent. Kubota vigorously opposed the suit because it was believed to be without merit.

On April 5, the jury found in favor of Kubota, ruling that the Kubota implement suspension mechanism did not infringe the patent, and also ruling that certain claims of the Deere patent were invalid.

“When it initiated this suit, Deere publicly stated that Kubota had ‘copied’ Deere's technology. The jury's decision rejects Deere's statement and completely vindicates Kubota's position that the mechanisms at issue were based on Kubota's own, earlier-developed technology,” said Richard Briggs, general counsel, Kubota Tractor Corp.

Ken Golden, manger of public relations for John Deere & Co. told RER: “We are disappointed in the jury's decision and we are now assessing our next option.”