20 September 2019TrademarksSaman Javed

Record-breaking US pilot sues Airbus for using his likeness

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

In a complaint filed at the US District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday, September 18, Chuck Yeager said the infringement occurred in 2017, when Airbus launched the so-called Racer helicopter.

Yeager, who has broken a number of world records, said the aerospace company had exploited his standing as “one of the most, if not the most, famous pilots of all time”.

The filing alleged that promotional material released in 2017 quotes the CEO of Airbus Helicopters as saying: “’Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Now, we’re trying to break the cost barrier’.”

According to the complaint, in 2008 Yeager visited Airbus with the aim to negotiate an endorsement deal.

While the visit was filmed, “no video was permitted to be used for sales or advertising unless a deal setting the terms of same was entered into between Yeager and Airbus,” the filing said.

Yeager said Airbus wanted to use his name in press releases, but when informed that it would cost over $1 million, Airbus declined.

Yeager said the promotional material used his likeness and reputation to highlight Airbus’ intention of making a cost-effective and fast way to fly, and likely resulted in an increase in the company’s profits.

“By using his name, identity and likeness in the infringing material, Airbus impaired the ability of Yeager to receive his established earning potential,” the complaint said.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Today's top stories:

Marques 2019: clarity needed on non-traditional marks

Marques 2019: China’s fight against ‘malicious’ registrations

Australian court rejects Encompass computer-implemented appeal

EU report: Increase in small parcels but decrease in number of fake goods

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

5 March 2018   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.
11 November 2019   The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has granted Airbus another chance to prove that a fire prevention company’s patent is invalid.
15 January 2020   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.