15 January 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Airbus shoots down Chuck Yeager complaint

Airbus has urged a California federal court to throw a trademark infringement case brought by a retired air force general who was the first person to break the sound barrier.

General Chuck Yeager, now 96 years-old, sued the French aerospace company in September 2019, alleging that they had misused his name and image in promotions for one of its Racer helicopters.

Airbus has now hit back in a strongly-worded motion to dismiss. According to Airbus, Yeager’s suit falls flat at the first hurdle because of a lack of jurisdiction or even alleged wrongdoing.

“Plaintiffs...have brought suit against defendants AHI and Airbus US without alleging that they have done anything, let alone anything related to them or having any connection to the state of California,” the court filing said.

According to Airbus, the US District Court for the Central District of California has no jurisdiction over Airbus or its US subsidiary.

“Neither company is incorporated in California or has its principal place of business in California, nor are there any allegations in the complaint that could even remotely warrant deeming this an ‘exceptional case’,” said the Airbus filing.

Airbus also took aim at the fundamentals of Yeager’s case, arguing that the retired general had failed to allege any specific wrongdoing.

“Plaintiffs do not allege that either AHI or Airbus US committed any intentional act, let alone any intentional act that is relevant to the claims in the complaint,” Airbus said.

Yeager’s complaint stems from a 2017 appearance by Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury, who said: “Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Now, we’re trying to break the cost barrier.”

According to Yeager, this was a misuse of his name and likeness. Yeager had previously visited Airbus with the aim of negotiating a promotional deal, but discussions were unsuccessful.

Yeager had told Airbus that it would cost $1 million to use his name in press releases.

According to Airbus’ latest filing, nothing alleged by Yeager in his complaint constitutes any wrongdoing.

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20 September 2019   A retired US Air Force pilot has accused Airbus of using his name, identity and likeness without authorisation to promote one of its helicopters.