On March 26, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California ordered that three patents assigned to Pacific Surf Designs, Inc. are the property of WhiteWater West Industries, Ltd. The ruling is the culmination of two-years of litigation against Pacific Surf Designs and its co-founders, Richard Alleshouse and Yong Yeh, and follows a four-day trial held in February.
The three patents (United States Patent Numbers 9,044,685, 9,302,189, and 9,592,433) directed certain simulated surfing ride shapes and nozzle structures, which Pacific Surf Designs has advertised as their own “industry firsts,” and were found to have originated with Wave Loch, now known as FlowRider®.
Prior to co-founding Pacific Surf Designs, Mr. Alleshouse worked for Wave Loch, the company that invented the FlowRider® simulated surfing attraction. In 2012, WhiteWater acquired Wave Loch’s FlowRider® business. In awarding WhiteWater the patents, Judge Dana M. Sabraw found that the evidence “shows that Mr. Alleshouse’s half-pipe/quarter-pipe invention was related to, and emanated from, Wave Loch’s business and research.” The Court noted that Mr. Alleshouse “described his ideas for the inventions as knock offs of Wave Loch’s products” in an email to Mr. Yeh less than three weeks after founding Pacific Surf Designs. As a result, “common sense” showed that WhiteWater, as Wave Loch’s successor, owns the patents.
The Court also ordered that Mr. Yeh be removed as a co-inventor of the three patents, finding that “Mr. Yeh did not contribute to the conception of the inventions” and that “Mr. Yeh’s alleged patentable contributions were either rejected by the patent office or mirrored pre-existing technology by Wave Loch.”
WhiteWater CEO, Geoff Chutter, stated “We are happy that the Court recognized these ‘industry firsts’ originated with the Wave Loch/WhiteWater team and are pleased that these three patents are being returned to WhiteWater. We fought this case because if innovation is to prosper in our industry we need to protect the rights of intellectual property”