5 March 2018Trademarks

Airbus grounds trademark and patent infringement claims

The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division has dismissed a trademark and patent infringement claim, after commercial aircraft manufacturer Airbus filed to voluntarily dismiss the complaint.

The court dismissed the complaint, made against US-based Rockwell Collins, on Saturday, March 3. Airbus filed to voluntarily dismiss the complaint in late February.

France-based Airbus filed the complaint in October 2017, alleging that Rockwell, a company that specialises in aircraft interiors, cabin electronics and mission communications, was selling a seat configuration that infringed one of Airbus’s patents.

The Airbus patent in question is “Interior layout of an aircraft cabin” (US Patent Number 7,320,446). It covers a configuration of at least two columns of neighbouring seats, with the seats arranged one behind the other in each of the columns of seats. Each seat can be converted into a sleeper.

Airbus became aware of “Horizon 8”, a seating configuration being sold by a Rockwell subsidiary, B/E, in 2016.

The following year, Airbus sent a cease-and-desist letter to B/E, alleging infringement of the '446 patent. In June 2017, Rockwell allegedly replied to the letter but didn’t confirm whether or not it was selling the seating arrangement.

Rockwell was also accused of trademark infringement by Airbus.

According to the claim, Airbus has used its ‘AFDX’ trademark (which stands for avionics full-duplex switched ethernet) in connection with electronic communication systems for the aircraft and aerospace industries since 2005. AFDX is Airbus’s data network.

Airbus alleged that some of Rockwell’s uses of the ‘AFDX’ trademark are not associated with Airbus’s goods or services and are directed at parties that are not related to Airbus or its customers.

A 2013 press release from Rockwell said that it is the exclusive supplier of the AFDX data network on some of Airbus’s aircraft.

The commercial aircraft manufacturer also claimed that it didn’t give Rockwell a licence to use either the ‘446 patent or the ‘AFDX’ trademark.

Airbus was seeking a permanent injunction, damages, and attorneys’ fees from Rockwell.

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