Schutt Responds to Lawsuit: Utterly False and Without Merit

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Company Questions Motivation for long-delayed filing of the lawsuit

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Not only do we question Mr. Arment's claim that Riddell makes 'pioneering products' that offer greater injury protection

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"One has to question why an Illinois corporation, residing in California, and reconditioning in Mexico, would file a patent lawsuit in Madison, Wisconsin," says Robert Erb, President and CEO of Schutt Sports, Inc., in response to a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Riddell, Inc. against Schutt earlier this week. The lawsuit, court case #3:08-cv-00711, was filed in Wisconsin's Western District Court.

"This suit hardly passes the sniff test. After competing in the marketplace for five years it suddenly occurs to Riddell that Schutt might be violating their patent rights?" questions Erb. "Doubtful. This seems like a desperate and pathetic attempt to take the focus off of what is really happening to them in the market. They have had access to our helmets for years without comment or complaint. In my experience, legitimate intellectual property holders tend to move a lot quicker by notifying the alleged infringer immediately with the demand that they cease the offending activity, rather than waiting several years and then issuing a press release about a civil complaint yet to be served."

Erb suggests that there may be other factors at play: Riddell is losing significant market share in football. Schutt is the fastest growing helmet in the NFL®, Collegiate and Varsity ranks. And Riddell's exclusive license agreement with the NFL® is up for renewal in the upcoming year. The NFL® teams and players are electing to purchase Schutt equipment rather than wear the equipment provided by Riddell free of charge. The VSR-4 and Revolution® helmets are demonstrably less protective than DNA™, ION4D™ or AIR XP™ helmets made by Schutt.

In addition, Erb says, Schutt is hurting Riddell where it hurts most -- in sales.

"Schutt is taking market share from Riddell with the introduction of a new shoulder pad line that is also rapidly gaining ground in the NFL® and collegiate ranks," Erb explains. "Riddell's reconditioning and cloth businesses are struggling; losing share and profitability. And, Riddell's parent company, Easton-Bell, has consistently lost ground to Bauer, in hockey, and Mizuno and Rawlings, in baseball. In addition, their ski and bike businesses are falling behind the competition, which may explain in part why Easton-Bell failed to find support for a public offering this past year."

"No doubt the prospects of a courtroom look inviting to Riddell and their parent right now," says Erb. "Given the hammering they continue to take on the field and in the market place."

Schutt will answer the complaint with a strong denial of all claims. "Schutt Sports would never dream of infringing the Riddell Revolution® patents," Erb says emphatically. "We have every reason to believe that the Revolution® product design is fatally flawed and potentially dangerous, as evidenced by the number of helmets flying off the heads of athletes in game situations over the past few years. And since foam deteriorates over time, becomes less protective in extreme temperatures, and is less sanitary than TPU, we have opted to go in an entirely different direction than Riddell with our premium football helmets."

Schutt intends not only to aggressively defend itself in the present action, but will bring several counterclaims.

"We are confident that we will be able to convince a court that Schutt has no liability whatsoever," says Erb. "In addition, we intend to challenge the validity of the Riddell patents they have placed at issue and request injunctive relief from Riddell's continued unfair business practices and damages under relevant State and Federal statutes."

"Not only do we question Mr. Arment's claim that Riddell makes 'pioneering products' that offer greater injury protection," says Erb, "but he is now going to have to prove that they have made patentable advancements in the art under the scrutiny of a judge and in a public forum. We suggest Mr. Arment put on a Schutt ION4D™ helmet because the drubbing he is about to take is going to demand the very best in head protection."

For more information, please contact:
Glenn Beckmann
217-324-3978    
gbeckmann at schutt-sports dot com

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