Aspen avionics asks judge to throw out Eclipse lawsuit

 - December 21, 2006, 10:55 AM

Aspen Avionics, the maker of the AT300 hazard awareness display, has asked a New Mexico court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Eclipse Aviation in October claiming “intellectual ownership” of the device. Former Eclipse employees Peter Lyons and Jeff Bethel say they developed the AT300 before ever coming to work for the VLJ maker and that Eclipse decided to sue them only after the pair left the company to form their own company. The AT300 is a small terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) with an integrated vertical-speed indicator and moving map. Eclipse claims the men developed the product on Eclipse time, using Eclipse resources, and therefore the design belongs to Eclipse. A lawyer for Aspen Avionics said the lawsuit should be dismissed because a nondisclosure agreement signed by Lyons and Bethel before they were hired by Eclipse applied only to a pre-employment factory tour. He said the pair never signed a nondisclosure agreement after becoming Eclipse employees and that they declined to do so when they left the company in 2004. They founded Aspen Avionics near Eclipse’s Albuquerque home in early 2005, applying for a patent for the AT300 in May of that year. Eclipse filed a patent application for the device one month later. Aspen Avionics has filed a counterclaim asking the judge in the case to decide who has rightful ownership of the product.