Monday April 21, 2014

Bell, Eurocopter both claim victory in patent dispute

Landing gear for the Bell 429 is at the centre of a patent dispute between the US company and Eurocopter.

Rival firms Eurocopter and Bell Helicopter have both claimed victory over a Federal Court of Canada ruling on a patent dispute over helicopter landing gear.

The case centred on a sleigh type landing gear for the Bell 429, which Eurocopter claimed was a “slavish copy” of the landing gear for its EC120 and EC130 helicopters. In court filings, Eurocopter alleged that Bell leased an EC120, copied the landing gear, then hastily changed the design after Eurocopter filed suit.

The court agreed, in part, finding that Bell “misled and continues to mislead the public into believing that the Bell Model 429 is the first helicopter to use a sleigh type landing gear.” The court ordered Bell to pay punitive damages and destroy any landing gears that infringe on Eurocopter’s patent.

However, the court dismissed 15 other claims brought by Eurocopter, including allegations that the redesigned production landing gear for the Bell 429 also infringes Eurocopter’s patent, a decision hailed by US based Bell.

“Integrity is at the core of who we are as a company and what we believe,” Bell CEO John Garrison said in a statement. “Bell Helicopter would never knowingly violate the intellectual property of others.”

Eurocopter has filed separate cases in the US and France alleging that Bell’s redesigned landing gear violates its patents. The company said it was “evaluating its options” with regard to the Canadian court ruling.