BEATRICE, Neb. — Exmark Manufacturing Co. Inc., a division of Bloomington-based Toro, sued Briggs & Stratton in 2010 over a design that allows a multi-blade lawn mower deck to switch from mulching to side-discharging.

A federal jury in Nebraska ruled that the patent infringement was willful and awarded $24.3 million in damages, the Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Briggs & Stratton said in a regulatory filing. The willful finding means the federal judge can increase the damages.

The jury ruled, however, that newer Briggs & Stratton models did not infringe after a redesign.

Briggs & Stratton said it “strongly disagree[s] with the verdict and certain rulings made before and during trial, and … intends to vigorously pursue its rights through post-trial motions and, if necessary, on appeal.”

The company has not yet determined whether the verdict will have an impact on its financial statements.

Exmark issued a statement through a spokesman, saying: “We are pleased with the jury’s verdict in this case. We work hard to develop innovative products and solutions to help our customers, and vigorously protect and defend our patents and other intellectual property rights.”

Originally appeared in Minneapolis /St. Paul Business Journal.