Bell Helicopter Beats Landing Gear Patent Claims In French Court

By Joseph Mandour on October 17, 2012

Patent AttorneysOrange County – Textron Inc. subsidiary Bell Helicopter announced Tuesday that it has prevailed over Eurocopter’s patent infringement allegations in a French court over Bell’s landing gear for its 429 helicopters.

A three-judge panel of France’s Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris ruled that the Bell 429 production skid gear does not infringe Eurocopter’s French landing skid gear patent, according to Bell. All Bell 429s have been and will continue to be delivered with the current production gear, the company said.

The Court also ordered Eurocopter to pay the costs of the overall proceedings, and pay Bell Helicopter Textron and Bell Canada each the sum of €65,000 in costs.

“This ruling by the French court, once again validating the design of the Bell 429 production skid gear, is a resounding victory for Bell Helicopter,” Bell President and CEO John L. Garrison said. “Integrity is woven into the fiber of our company and we work tirelessly to ensure our actions are consistent with this core value.”

The French court’s decision does not affect ongoing litigation in the U.S. over the landing gear.

In January a Canadian court ruled that Bell’s first designs for the landing gear were too close to Eurocopter’s equivalents and intentionally infringed the patent, but that the redesigns made to the landing gear following Eurocopter’s complaint resolved the problem. The court awarded Eurocopter as-yet-undetermined punitive damages, partly due to “the deliberate and outrageous conduct of Bell in this case,” it said.

“We intend to continue to vigorously defend the production gear in the pending Eurocopter infringement suit in the U.S.,” Garrison said. “This ruling underscores the Canadian court’s decision in a similar ruling in favor of Bell Helicopter and provides strong support for our position.”

The Bell 429 is the company’s latest helicopter, and the first the company designed from the ground up in decades.

“With superior speed, best-in-class cabin volume, state-of-the-art glass flight deck that enhances crew situational awareness, and Bell Helicopter’s industry leading support and services, the Bell 429 is quickly becoming the preferred aircraft in the light, twin-engine market,” Bell says of the aircraft.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement