CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
AEON Law logo full color transparent
AEON law logo on grey background

Sharks In The Air

Winglets v. Sharklets:
Airbus bets rival’s patent
Won’t hold up in court

European aircraft maker Airbus SAS has sued a partner of Boeing Co., Aviation Partners, Inc. (API) [Airbus SAS v. Aviation Partners Inc., 11cv1030, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin)], seeking to avoid paying patent royalties for wingtips that make its airplanes more fuel efficient.

“API’s threats [about royalties] are a significant hindrance to Airbus and, without an early resolution, place Airbus at a competitive disadvantage,” Airbus said in the complaint.

Airbus filed suit December 1, 2011 in US District Court in Austin, Texas, seeking a declaration that a patent owned by API is invalid and that Airbus’s own “sharklets” wingtips don’t infringe it.

The US patent at issue is number 5,348,253, filed in 1993 and issued in 1994, for a “blended winglet” first used in 1992:

The blended winglet is a wing-like device comprising a blended lifting surface attachable to each airplane wing tip so as to achieve minimum induced drag for a given surface size.

According to API, the winglets also reduce engine maintenance costs, airport noise, and emissions.

Since 1999, Aviation Partners has engaged in a joint venture with Boeing to manufacture the winglets, which are used on many aircraft including 2,800 Boeing jets.  Boeing was not named in the suit.

Airbus is adding sharklets to its planes to reduce fuel consumption by 3.5%.  Airbus and Boeing are engaged in vigorous competition over which can produce commercial aircraft with the lowest fuel consumption.  Airbus claims that its A320neo plane (equipped with sharklets) is more fuel efficient than the competing Boeing 737 Max.

The lawsuit claims that “For decades, Airbus has been developing and marketing wing tip devices that reduce drag and improve aircraft performance for various Airbus aircraft.”

Related Articles

Patent Office Updates Eligibility Guidance on AI Inventions

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has updated its Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance to address artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. This is in response ...
Read More

Federal Circuit Invalidates Remote Gambling Patents

The Federal Circuit has affirmed a federal district court’s dismissal of patent infringement suits involving patents for remote gambling, because it found the subject matter ...
Read More

Federal Circuit Rules on Patent Damages Based on Foreign Conduct

The Federal Circuit has ruled that a US patent-holder plaintiff may be able to recover damages for a defendant’s foreign sales of infringing products if ...
Read More

Let's work together.

Contact us to set up a meeting with an attorney or team member.

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive Patent Poetry—a monthly roundup of key IP issues in our signature haiku format. Four articles (only 68 syllables); zero hassle.

SECTORS

HIGH
TECHNOLOGY

Artificial Intelligence

Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Computer Technology & Software

Consumer Electronics

Electrical Devices

MECHANICAL
& PRODUCTS​

Cleantech

Mechanical Devices

Consumer & Retail Products

Hardware & Tools

Toys & Games

LIFE SCIENCES
& CHEMISTRY​

Biotechnology

Chemical Compounds

Digital Health

Healthcare Products

Pharmaceuticals

BRANDING
& CREATIVE​

Books & Publications

Brand Creation

Luxury Products

Photography & Video

Product Design

call us  206.533.3854

SERVICES

PROTECT

DEAL

DEFEND