2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1022 posts, RR: 0 Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3594 times:
Claiming Patent infringement - and proving it in court are two separate things. This case will drag on for years, the lawyers fees for both companies will be over $1 million each.
Even if RR wins. I am not sure how much damages they will get. In the US a patent is only good for 20 years from the date of filing. Given that most patents take several years to get issued from the date of the filing; and that the patent in question dates from the "late 1990's" - I suspect that by 2015 that the patent will expire.
My guess is that by the time this is settled in court that the patent in question will be expired. IAE will potentially be subject to some fines based on incremental earnings on the engines sold prior to the expiration of the patent. RR will have no claim on a single engine sold after the patent expires.
Wasn't IAE expecting most of their sales for these engines to be after 2015.... (and even if I'm off a year or so - I doubt it will change the outcome of this case).
PM From India, joined Feb 2005, 6813 posts, RR: 65 Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3581 times:
Rolls-Royce today filed an amended complaint alleging infringement by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) of the Rolls-Royce swept fan blade patent in the Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in the United States. The complaint specifically alleges that the fan stages on the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine and on UTC's PW1000G engine (also known as the Geared Turbofan) infringe the Rolls-Royce patent. The complaint also alleges that a number of other UTC aero civil engines infringe the Rolls-Royce patent. Rolls-Royce is seeking damages and injunctions.
It is expected that the case will be heard before a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in the first half of 2011.
The origins of this case date back to the late 1990s. The dispute was initiated by UTC when it applied to the US Patent Office to have the Rolls-Royce swept fan blade patent struck out. UTC's efforts were unsuccessful and the validity of the Rolls-Royce patent has been upheld in the United States.
This is a fascinating twist in the three-way struggle between GE, PW and RR. Those who are accusing RR of sour grapes for seemingly missing the potential narrowbody re-engining opportunity will draw their own conclusions. And the timing seems noteworthy. If RR believe that the GP7200 and PW1000G infringe a patent they must have known it for some time. (Surely?) Why bring it up now?
2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1022 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 3543 times:
A little more information:
Canadian Patent law has the same 20 years from the date of application.
This appears to be US Patent 6071077 - filed in the US on Oct 9, 1998 - Granted on June 6, 2000
I note that this patent was first filed in the UK in 1996. I am unsure with international patents if they get 20 years from the date of the first international filing - or from when it is filed in the US and/or Canada.
macsog6 From Singapore, joined Jan 2010, 497 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3411 times:
What RR likely wants is for the patent to be upheld and UTC would have to enter into a license agreement with RR and pay RR royalties. Patent enforcement is about making money, not stopping someone else ~ unless of course, they quit paying you.
Sixty Plus Years of Flying! "I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Saint Ex
2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1022 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 3373 times:
Quoting macsog6 (Reply 5): What RR likely wants is for the patent to be upheld and UTC would have to enter into a license agreement with RR and pay RR royalties. Patent enforcement is about making money, not stopping someone else ~ unless of course, they quit paying you.
In this case - it is likely that they are indeed looking for some form of royalty and penalty payments. However, in most cases patent enforcement is about stopping someone else (make it so painful that they will not infringe on another patent).
I doubt that this is a slam dunk case for RR. First - RR will have to demonstrate that P&W in fact did infringe on the RR patent - and did not just do a minor evolution from the other pre RR patent designs. At the same time - they may well have to defend again that they in fact have a defendable patent (was the RR "innovation" unique enough within the US).
Given that P&W knew of the RR patent - I am fairly sure that they had good patent lawer advice on what they could and could not do up front given the RR patent, as well as what would be questionable in their new design.
Time will tell; but if this goes the full monty - its not likely to be settled for 5-8 years as it goes through all the appeals.
I also did a little searching: The GP7000 series is used only on the A380. I don't see that as a huge number of engines before the patent expires. The PW1000G series is not supposed to enter commercial service until late 2013 at the earliest, and will be in ramp up for at least several years. Again, I don't see a huge number of engines before the patent expires. In the end, while RR may get a modest return here - it won't be nearly as good as the guy who won patent infringement against the US automakers for his design of a windshield wiper mechanism.... which everyone used because it worked so well (this was a few decades ago) He was only awarded something like 10 cents per windshield wiper....(1-2% of the value) and collected something like $40 Million (several decades ago) for the 17 years his patent was in effect.
fruitbat From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 548 posts, RR: 6 Reply 8, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 2694 times:
Quoting 2175301 (Reply 6): The GP7000 series is used only on the A380. I don't see that as a huge number of engines before the patent expires. The PW1000G series is not supposed to enter commercial service until late 2013 at the earliest, and will be in ramp up for at least several years. Again, I don't see a huge number of engines before the patent expires.
OK but lets have a little fun speculation - say 250 A380's with GP7000 are sold before the patent expiry date. Thats 1000 GP7000s plus spares. And if RR get (say) $0.25m compensation per engines thats $250m. Not to be sniffed at.
The other point to bear in mind is this - just how much fuel burn benefit accrues from the fan blade design? What if the (alleged) difference is GP7000 and Trent 900 fuel burn figures can be attributed to the fan blade design? Where does that leave things? What if this causes RR to lose sales campaigns? How would a court put a value on that?
Also, the RR claim also mentions other P&W engines as well, not just the GP7000 / PW1000G series.
Quoting 2175301 (Reply 6): Time will tell; but if this goes the full monty - its not likely to be settled for 5-8 years as it goes through all the appeals.
Agreed. It'll take years to resolve, esp. given that P&W apparently kicked this off in the mid 90's when they tried to have the patent struck off.
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.
2175301 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1022 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (3 years 3 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2638 times:
Challenging patents is quite common. It goes on all the time - by many companies (and I am sure RR does it too).
However, RR did not invent the wavy fan blade - they invented a very specific profile.
Now P&W was told that that profile was patented - and I doubt that they used exactly that.
Then we are into arguing that they used some "design" feature that P&W would only have known about because of the RR patent.... That's a tough argument to win - especially since I am sure that P&W went through great pains to not directly violate the patent. If P&W can show that their design essentially comes from another (say GE) design..., and that any new design feature is a direct extrapolation from the other design. RR will loose.
Also, cut your A380 numbers in half as this is not the only A380 engine (unless someone can come up with an exact sales breakdown of who's engines are on which planes ordered.)
The other P&W engine is not even in production yet - and will only hit the market in late 2013 at the earliest.
However, I suspect that RR is taking a calculated risk (if they only stand a 20% chance of winning - the numbers would pay for the lawsuit and provide a few $$$