$3.1 Million Breach of Contract Verdict for Infringement of Baseball Bat Patent
Sommers Schwartz attorney Andrew Kochanowski secured a $3.0 million verdict against the University of Massachusetts at Lowell in damages for breach of a license agreement along with $3.1 million for patent infringement on behalf of Charles S. Baum of Baum Research and Development in Traverse City, Michigan. At issue in the case was the patient for the Baum Hitting Machine, which was invented to test aluminum baseball bats used in collegiate and high school baseball games. The NCAA rules adopted in 1998 limited the speed of the ball as hit by high-performance aluminum bats, and the Baum Hitting Machine was chosen as the only device on which it would test bats. Mr. Baum, a prolific inventor, is the sole owner of the patent, and only two Baum Hitting Machines were ever created, one of which was delivered to the University of Massachusetts at Lowell under a limited license agreement prohibiting use of the machine for commercial testing. The jury also found in favor of Mr. Baum on the issue of willful infringement at the conclusion of a two-week trial in United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan. In an earlier trial, a jury had found that the University of Massachusetts at Lowell breached the license agreement and performed unlicensed testing using the Baum Hitting Machine. The testing was performed at the Baseball Research Center, which is part of the Department of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell under Director, Dr. James Sherwood. After only a half-day of deliberation, the prior jury found that the University of Massachusetts at Lowell owed Mr. Baum and his company damages and willfully infringed the claims of Baum’s patent.