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Snap-on to appeal $28 million patent infringement award (UPDATE)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The tool maker Snap-on Inc. says it will appeal a federal court’s verdict that awarded Milwaukee Electric Tool nearly $28 million in a patent-infringement lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit, filed three years ago in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, involves three Milwaukee Tool patents for battery packs used with cordless power tools.

The Journal Sentinel reports that Rick Secor of Snap-on says the company strongly disagrees with the jury’s verdict and will “vigorously appeal.”

A spokesman for Milwaukee Tool said the verdict shows how innovative the company’s technology was.

“The introduction of Lithium-Ion technology to the professional power-tool industry was groundbreaking and resulted in multiple patents for our company that we continue to aggressively defend,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Yesterday’s jury verdict by the federal court affirms Milwaukee Tool’s leadership in new-to-world technology in cordless tools for the trades.”

In the lawsuit, the Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool says the lithium-ion battery packs it invented greatly changed the industry after being introduced in 2005. The technology replaced packs that used nickel-cadmium batteries.

Before Milwaukee Tool’s introduction of lithium-ion-powered tools, battery-powered tools were generally considered inferior to power tools with cords, according to the complaint, which was filed in 2014.

When Milwaukee Tool’s invention was released, it won high praise from industry officials. In 2005, the company scored a “Breakthrough Award” from Popular Mechanics magazine.

Milwaukee Tool’s victory in its lawsuit alleging patent infringement was not surprising, said Scott Hansen, one of the lawyers who represented the company and a shareholder at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.

“The amount was fairly based on the amount of Snap-on’s infringing sales,” Hansen wrote in an email.

He noted that the jury deemed the infringement willful. That finding, Hansen said, allows the court to increase the damages Snap-on could have to pay by up to three times the amount of the jury’s award.

“Snap-on’s statement that it plans to appeal also is no surprise,” Hansen said.

The Daily Reporter staff writer Alex Zank contributed to this report.

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