Aviation Partners filed a response yesterday to Airbus’s pre-emptive lawsuit that seeks to invalidate an Aviation Partners patent for blended winglets. This patent–filed on Feb. 1, 1993, and granted Sept. 20, 1994–is for technology that is the foundation of the Seattle-based company. Since patents perish after 20 years, this one will expire in about 12 months.
In its response, Aviation Partners has requested that the Airbus lawsuit be either dismissed or transferred to Seattle. “Airbus’s complaint pleads legal conclusions without factual support,” Aviation Partners alleges in its filing. “[The] complaint omits significant facts, including…the longstanding relationship between [Aviation Partners] and Airbus.”
According to Aviation Partners, it began discussions with Airbus in 2006 regarding the use of its blended winglets on Airbus A320s. A series of negotiations resulted in the parties entering into a memorandum of understanding in July to form a joint venture to use Aviation Partners’ blended winglets on Airbus A320s, the company noted.
Late last summer, Airbus “provided [Aviation Partners] with data and information (including engineering specifications and drawings) for Airbus’s ‘Sharklet design,’” Joe Clark said in a sworn statement. “[Aviation Partners] engineers analyzed the Airbus materials and noticed the striking similarity between API’s Blended Winglet…and the Airbus ‘Sharklet’ design.”
“Without notifying Aviation Partners, [Airbus] sought a patent in Europe for its own ‘Sharklet wingtip,’” Clark added. Airbus filed its lawsuit in early December.