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Airbus Challenges Patent on Fuel-Saving Winglets Used by Boeing

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(Way to bite the hand that feeds you Airbus) Airbus SAS, the largest aircraft maker, sued a partner of Boeing Co. (BA) to avoid paying patent royalties for wing tips that make airplanes more fuel-efficient. The lawsuit filed today in Austin, Texas, asks the federal court to declare that the Aviation Partners Inc. patent is invalid and that Airbus doesn’t infringe. Closely held Aviation Partners, which has a joint venture with Boeing to make winglets that reduce drag on an airplane, has “stated… (www.bloomberg.com) Más...

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bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
Just call it a "Sharklet" instead of a "winglet", paint shark's teeth on the nose and say to hell with API's Patent.....
canuck44
canuck44 0
Aviation Partners obviously has a solid patent otherwise Boeing would not have found this type of partnership advantageous. If Airbus chooses to stiff API and loses, the cost plus penalties could be astronomical. API has deep pockets in the form of Boeing who are more than happy to have additional price placed on every Airbus and/or customers wondering whether their aircraft are liable to be impounded.

Building the aircraft without the design technology will lead to an economical disadvantage to customers which will add up to a huge chunk of change annually. It will be interesting to see how much they piss off the judge with frivolous arguments.
alistairm
alistairm 0
V.J. Burnelli holds the original patent on end plating wing tips and it goes back to 1930. This technology goes back to before the 1900's. Boeing did not invent this technology and should get over themselves.
canuck44
canuck44 0
US Patent 5,348,253 Application date in 1993 to the original Aviation Partners, Inc who were vets of Lockheed and other aviation engineering.

US Patent 6,089,502 Blunt Leading Edge Raked Wingtips is owned by Boeing from 2000.

Both patents are online and only about 6 pages. The general rule on patents is that short, broad claims give the least ability to have them overturned as the rule is that any violation must be substantially different to do so. Boeing with all its legal and engineering geniuses obviously felt the original could not be overturned so "invested" in Aviation Partners Boeing, Inc.

What will be interesting will be whether Boeing has any "exclusivity clauses" with their partners.
Boatinman
Boatinman 0
owned.
mpradel
Marcus Pradel 0
How do you sue someone for the right to use their technology without having to pay for it? backwards..

let them build a couple airplanes, send a cease and desist letter and then get the fleet grounded.

THEN, you can talk about how much it'll cost to license it.
HWL1223
H W Lam 0
whats next - sue because you claim a patent on a cylindrical flying machine? Or a wing? Its a shape. Greed impeding design, art and education.
politiri
ken hamilton 0
Who patent the aircraft, the single isle aircraft, two isle, side by side seating. Lets talk about the automobile. Hate to say it, if the US and their corporations that control government lackies allow this protectionist attitude to prevail, there will be some serious repercussions throughout the world in the near future.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
How eactly is it "protectionist" to say that a blatant copy of something that another entity spend huge amounts of time and capital developing cannot be used without due payment for the design? Sorry, we're not talking about a new machine such as an automobile or airplane,we're talking about a SPECIFIC refinement to the design of an existing machine that has a substantial impact on the performance of the machine.

And just what "serious repercussions" do you foresee?
indy2001
indy2001 0
The US government is no more "protectionist" than the government of any other aviation manufacturing nation. In fact, in some areas, it has become so laissez faire as to be a hindrance to American manufacturers.
canuck44
canuck44 0
Aviation Partners can be considered the Old Farts company of retired Boeing and Lockheed Engineers. They devoted their skills to an "industrial design" that frankly was pooh poohed by the biggies initially. They patented their work just like any other design that was "unique". I have been through the patent process a couple of times with my daughter and without demonstrating how an innovation is "substantially different" from existing or "common" technology, patents are not granted.

They formed a "partnership" with Boeing to form Aviation Partners Boeing which licensed the technology, blending it with Boeings wing technology. The interesting part will be whether Airbus will have to essentially pay the latter group to use the winglets. That is most likely what is pissing off Airbus as the winglets are obviously more efficient than the fences (wing soothers) they currently use.

Without patents innovation is a losing proposition in any field.
bishops90
Brian Bishop 0
Well Said.
Iskra
Iskra 0
I guess I'm missing something, but Gulfstream and Lear have been flying blended Winglets for many many years. The G-3 has been flying since the 80's with a blended winglet. So what give?
skylloyd
skylloyd 0
You are absolutely correct, API istalled them on the Gulfdtram to begin with and than sold Boeing on the idea, I was on the team that installed them on the first Boeing A/P for Boeing
canuck44
canuck44 0
Frankly, I think it is neat that some old farts designed it, patented it and put it into widespread use receiving accolades without selling their souls to do it.
canuck44
canuck44 0
"Blended" means a smooth curve into the winglet which evidently avoids significant turbulence = fuel savings.

The other types going back before 1900 did not have the advantage of the curvature but were more like the Airbus "fence". Aren't computers great for aerodynamic modeling?
Iskra
Iskra 0
I don't know, but the last time I fly or looked at a Gulfstream it looked blended to me... I currently fly the Airbus and I get the old Airbus fence!
canuck44
canuck44 0
Here is the critical part from the patent abstract: "In a critical departure from the usual winglet design approach, the sensitive transition section features a smoothly varying chord distribution which blends smoothly and continuously with the wing and with the adjoining straight section."

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5348253.html
Iskra
Iskra 0
Flew (oops)

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