WINGS
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Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:54 am

An interesting article regarding some patents secured by Airbus from the A380 program. It makes me wonder if Boeing has not also done its work and patented the 787 fuselage construction method, leaving Airbus and the A350XWB to come up with its own techniques.

More than 380 patents for the A380
28 August 2007


http://www.airbus.com/en/presscentre...ems/07_08_28_a380_380_patents.html

During the A380 development phase, Airbus filed more than 380 patent applications for technologies developed for the all new double-decker. Since the programme was launched in December 2000, these new technologies have been put through rigorous testing. Significant breakthrough innovations have been achieved in aerodynamics, cabin design, engine integration, flight controls, aircraft systems, manufacturing techniques and the extensive use of advanced lightweight composite materials, making the A380 the world's most advanced and efficient airliner. These intellectual property rights secure Airbus' innovations and form a solid basis for maintaining Airbus' lead in new technological developments.

Among the innovations for which Airbus has filed patent applications is the Zero Splice inlet that is integrated into the A380 engines' nacelles. This invention, which consists of a single 360 degree composite piece, instead of several separate panels spliced together, contributes significantly to the A380s very low noise emissions.

Another Airbus industry first is the extensive use of advanced lightweight materials, such as Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), for the large primary structures of the A380. Airbus has patented a new joining process for producing the world's first ever carbon-fibre composite centre wing-box for a commercial aircraft. Some 25 per cent of the A380 structure is made of composites, generating a total weight saving of 15 tonnes, which contributes to its low fuel consumption and low noise emissions.

Airbus has also filed patents for the many innovative systems developed for the A380. These include the avionics data communication network (ADCN) which supports the increasing inter-system communication needs with the benefit of further improving data integrity and transmission speed. Another significant breakthrough in aircraft systems is the Brake-to-Vacate function that optimises the amount of energy used for braking and reduces runway occupancy time, while also ensuring a high level of passenger comfort during landing. Patent applications also cover the Electrical Back-up Hydraulic Actuator (EBHA) which is part of the A380's new two energy, four-channel flight controls architecture. Conventional flight controls architecture on commercial aircraft has three hydraulic channels. The A380 architecture increases the performance and reliability of the flight controls system due to its dual energy source (electrical and hydraulic) and reduces weight by suppressing one hydraulic circuit.

These Airbus patented technologies will continue to be further improved during the service life of the A380 and a number of these have already been adopted for the A350 XWB. Innovation has always been an Airbus hallmark and the A380, about to enter service, definitely sets the standards for the 21st century.


Regards,
Wings
Aviation Is A Passion.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 3:05 pm

Quoting WINGS (Thread starter):
It makes me wonder if Boeing has not also done its work and patented the 787 fuselage construction method, leaving Airbus and the A350XWB to come up with its own techniques.

I know that Boeing has filed a bunch of patents on the 787 technologies. I'm not sure if the fuselage construction is one of them; they may be going the trade secret route with that. I do know that all of the major suppliers have contractual conditions that they can't use any of the know-how they got from Boeing for the 787 to build parts for any other company.

Tom.
 
BigJimFX
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:14 pm

As much as I love the A380, It is becoming harder and harder to imagine it being a huge financial success. However, the many technologies that were pioneered during it's design and construction, will impact the industry for years to come. Kudos to Airbus.
I'd like to thank me for flying Me Airways...
 
ctrl_alt_del
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:17 pm

Boeing has filed a number of interesting patents on devices for constructing composite fuselages

US2006118235
US2006060705
WO2006001860
US2006180704
US2005039844
US2005023414
US4674712

The contents can be viewed on the US Patent and Trademarks Office website.
The last one US4674712 is worth a look, from 1987, concerning a double lobe fuselage with a vertical divider
running along the center.
 
ncelhr
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:52 pm

Interesting to see that there's finally a discussion that goes a little further than A vs. B for how many airplanes each manufacturer is building per year.

Yes, both manufacturers have woken up to the fact that Intellectual Property is going to be on of their their Key Success Factors, especially in the light of new potential manufacturers coming into the market.

It should be interesting to see that if so many methods & structures are patented, will the manufacturers:

1. grow further apart in their construction methods, thus providing two clearly different products for an airline to choose from?

or

2. come closer together and start licensing methods to each other, maybe not out of choice, but out of necessity?
 
radiogaga
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 9:02 pm

Not wanting to rain on Airbus's parade, but does the filing of an application guarantee that the patent will be granted? The press release only mentioned that applications had been made.

It's good that Airbus are looking to protect their IP, but I do wish they would get the A380s out the door faster!
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 9:23 pm

Quoting Radiogaga (Reply 5):
Not wanting to rain on Airbus's parade, but does the filing of an application guarantee that the patent will be granted?

It does not guarantee it. However, most countries work on a first-to-file system so you want to get your application in first if there's any risk of someone else doing the same. In the US, it's first-to-invent.

The patent may be rejected upon examination although, for a big company with significant resources, having your patent rejected doesn't reflect very well on your IP lawyers.

Tom.
 
NoWorries
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 9:31 pm

Quoting WINGS (Thread starter):
the avionics data communication network (ADCN) which supports the increasing inter-system communication needs with the benefit of further improving data integrity and transmission speed

Interesting -- I think this is based on the ARINC 664 standard (which Airbus and it's suppliers developed for the A380). The 787 also uses ARINC 664 for avionics communications. So does Boeing pay royalties to Airbus for this, or is the ADCN some patented system that is implemented on top of ARINC 664? Wonder why Airbus didn't patent 664 -- maybe not possible?
 
ctrl_alt_del
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 9:47 pm

Patent applications per se, do not provide protection. The publishing of a patent application provides provisional protection and content of the claims of this publication can be significantly different to the scope of protection provided by the finally granted patent. The chances of a patent being granted depend heavily on the results of the prior art search performed by the relevant patent office. The search results from the US PTO are "generally" recognized as being of a lower standard compared to other major patent offices around the globe. Of course, a patent granted in the US has no legal consequences outside of that territory.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:07 pm

Not just the A380 and 787, but all the earlier Boeing and Airbus commercial families likely have very interesting IP patents, as well.

Quoting Ncelhr (Reply 4):
Yes, both manufacturers have woken up to the fact that Intellectual Property is going to be on of their their Key Success Factors, especially in the light of new potential manufacturers coming into the market.

 yes 
 
DLPMMM
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:25 pm

Quoting CTRL_ALT_DEL (Reply 8):
Of course, a patent granted in the US has no legal consequences outside of that territory.

True, but any plane using technology that is found to be in violation of a USA patent could be prevented from entering USA airspace, or even possibly impounded if it flies into a USA airport. I assume the same can be said for European patents as well.

In the inconnected international commercial world these days, the country of patent is becoming less important, as the resultant products need to be marketed world wide.

I am sure that AA will not buy Boeing planes if they could be impounded if they are flown to FRA. The same for Airbus, LH and JFK.

Cheers
 
Joni
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:27 pm

Quoting Radiogaga (Reply 5):
Not wanting to rain on Airbus's parade, but does the filing of an application guarantee that the patent will be granted? The press release only mentioned that applications had been made.

No, and often the scope of a granted patent is narrower than what the patentee was originally going for. It's not very common for large companies' patent applications to be completely rejected/abandoned but it does happen. For both these reasons, filing hundreds of applications is a good way to increase the odds that at least a some of them are going to be really valuable.

In manufacturing methods for aerospace products, detecting infringement can be difficult since A&B don't have access to each others factories. Overall I don't recall even one case when A would have sued B for patent infringement, or vice versa even though there's a good chance both companies have patents that the other is infringing. This means there is a healthy balance of power between them as both are deterred from initiating lawsuits. Both are likely to be ready to use their patents against an upstart newcomer to the field, to extract royalties that eat into the newcomers profit margin and preserve the duopoly.
 
PanAm1971
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:07 am

I'm a little leary of this. Don't misunderstand me, I understand the "why" and the "objective" of A and B patenting parts and manufacturing methods. However, you have to wonder if A and B are not putting their symbiotic market dominance at risk by doing this. For example; Tu, Su and a future Chinese manufacturer are unlikely to honor these patents. It's unlikely they will be compelled by their governments to adhere to WTO rules. With the changing geo-political climate, it's very likely the WTO process will take a back seat-understandably-to greater political needs. A and B would be better served if they skipped the patents and just engaged in no holds barred competition to make fantasic aircraft-like they both do now. A and B supporters tend not to see just how good ruthless compeition has made them and allowed both companys to dominate the world commercial aircraft market. P-S, I'f I were the President of Brazil I would haul both A and B before the WTO and challenge these patents as anti-competitive.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:49 am

ARINC 664

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 12):
I'f I were the President of Brazil I would haul both A and B before the WTO and challenge these patents as anti-competitive.

Come again? A patent doesn't violate any anti-competitive statue anywhere on the planet, as far as I know. Certainly not within the WTO.

Tom.
 
redflyer
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:55 am

That the A380 generated so many patents does not surprise me given the magnitude of the project and the cutting edge technologies involved. What will surprise me is if Boeing has as many or even comes close on the 787 given that they've outsourced the majority of the construction to suppliers, who are tasked with building parts to certain specifications and performance criteria. I'm sure the suppliers have used Boeing patents in their processes, but I wonder how many more patents were generated by the suppliers themselves? Or does the agreement between Boeing and its suppliers stipulate all patents will be owned by Boeing, much as employer/employee relationships dictate that any patents (inventions) are owned by the employer?
A government big enough to take away a constitutionally guaranteed right is a government big enough to take away any guaranteed right. A government big enough to give you everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything you have.
 
PanAm1971
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 3:26 am

Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 13):

Come again? A patent doesn't violate any anti-competitive statue anywhere on the planet, as far as I know. Certainly not within the WTO.

Tom.

Tom,
If I were Brazil, I would claim that A and B together are an anti-competitive entity. They use their overwhealming dominance in the marketplace to block out potential competitors. The use of these patents merely reinforces that dominance. Embraer, it could be argued, will never crack the mid to large airliner market without the ability to leapfrog forward and use patented manufacturing techniques. Patents-it could be argued by a good lawyer (not me) are not meant to reinforce the dominance of two manufacturers in the crucial marketplace of commercial airliners.
 
TeamAmerica
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:13 am

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 15):
If I were Brazil, I would claim that A and B together are an anti-competitive entity.

That's just silly. Unless you can prove collusion between A & B they are not an "entity" in any sense.
Lacking that proof, you would just be spouting sour grapes.
Failure is not an option; it's an outcome.
 
ncelhr
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:20 am

Quoting Tdscanuck (Reply 6):
The patent may be rejected upon examination although, for a big company with significant resources, having your patent rejected doesn't reflect very well on your IP lawyers.

With enough resources, it will go through. You appeal. It gets rejected again. Find out what is the stumbling block, re-word it, and then appeal again. If it gets rejected again, you repeat the operation one more time. If it still gets rejected, you ask for a new examiner & appeal. If it gets rejected again, you repeat the above operation of re-writing, except if yuo can do without the patent. In the meantime you can file another one, similar to the original one.
With money, you can do anything.

Of course, the same goes for patent infringement. You'll just have to tweak your own process so as to just scrape through. It's a cat & mouse game. Ultimately, there's a lot of muscle-flexing, but one thing it does is to delay your competitor, and time is money.

Quoting CTRL_ALT_DEL (Reply 8):
Of course, a patent granted in the US has no legal consequences outside of that territory.

With the wonderful process known as Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you can extent a patent worldwide once it has been granted by signing a handful of pieces of paper. (and more $$$)

Quoting DLPMMM (Reply 10):
True, but any plane using technology that is found to be in violation of a USA patent could be prevented from entering USA airspace, or even possibly impounded if it flies into a USA airport. I assume the same can be said for European patents as well.

Indeed. Just like forged goods get siezed.

Quoting Joni (Reply 11):
In manufacturing methods for aerospace products, detecting infringement can be difficult since A&B don't have access to each others factories

You're right. But for components, manufacturers have been known to get a friendly MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul) to strip the competitor's a/c to see what it has in its guts.

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 12):
Don't misunderstand me, I understand the "why" and the "objective" of A and B patenting parts and manufacturing methods. However, you have to wonder if A and B are not putting their symbiotic market dominance at risk by doing this. For example; Tu, Su and a future Chinese manufacturer are unlikely to honor these patents.

See response above - fly outside your country of origin and have your a/c siezed. It's fine for a product that doesn't travel, but for aircraft, it's not too practical...

Of course, Patents are a double-edged sword. For one, you provide a detailed plan of how you are doing something and are therefore ready to have your competitors copy parts of it and disguising it as their own process/product. You also provide insightful strategic data about which direction your research is going. Also, competition can bulk-process patent data & derive info on what your trends are & the key personnel behind it all - in case they might want to go headhunting. But you can also play the game and file for useless patents (it has been done in other industries) to get your competitor's R&D dept. to waste time & resources.
 cool 
 
drexotica
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:30 am

Quoting CTRL_ALT_DEL (Reply 3):
The contents can be viewed on the US Patent and Trademarks Office website.
The last one US4674712 is worth a look, from 1987, concerning a double lobe fuselage with a vertical divider
running along the center.

Doing a couple quick searches, Boeing has over 5490 patents issues since 1976.
N707PA - Best looking commercial aircraft ever.
 
baron95
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:31 am

No doubt that Airbus is a very innovative company and the A380 is an innovative product. Also no doubt that Airbus is very right in pursuing strong IP protection of its technology.

Having said that, I doubt very much that any design or method pattent used in the construction of an aircraft can be used to extract roalties or prevent another mannufacturer from building any aircraft. I think there is enough public domain prior art in the field to protect almost anyone and anything.

As for A vs B in IP, does anyone know if they have a cross licensing agreement? Obviously it is unlikely they'll ever litigate against one another on IP. As a matter of fact, I can't recall any significant IP litigaton in commercial aviation after WWII? Does anyone recall any?
Killer Fleet: E190, 737-900ER, 777-300ER
 
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Stitch
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 4:37 am

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 12):
However, you have to wonder if A and B are not putting their symbiotic market dominance at risk by doing this. For example; Tu, Su and a future Chinese manufacturer are unlikely to honor these patents. It's unlikely they will be compelled by their governments to adhere to WTO rules.

One could argue some Russian and Chinese planes are clones of existing Western designs. Still, as noted, if China or Russia did allow their aerospace companies to directly and willfully infringe patents that belong to Airbus and Boeing, those planes would likely never set tire to US or EU soil. And they may not be able to set foot on a lot of other soils, as well. So they'd probably not be a market threat.

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 15):
If I were Brazil, I would claim that A and B together are an anti-competitive entity. They use their overwhealming dominance in the marketplace to block out potential competitors. The use of these patents merely reinforces that dominance. Embraer, it could be argued, will never crack the mid to large airliner market without the ability to leapfrog forward and use patented manufacturing techniques. Patents-it could be argued by a good lawyer (not me) are not meant to reinforce the dominance of two manufacturers in the crucial marketplace of commercial airliners.

The only thing truly stopping Embraer and Bombardier from building a large commercial airliner is about $25 billion USD. If the governments of Brazil and Canada wish to invest that amount of money, they could build the factories and parts infrastructures, train the staff, design and build the plane, and market it for sale.

After all, what is an EMB-195, but a 7/8th scale A319?

[Edited 2007-08-29 21:38:06]
 
ctrl_alt_del
Posts: 62
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 5:12 am

Hi DrExotica,
I only searched those patents or patent applications which had to to do with "composite fuselages" and Boeing. Since Boeing has outsourced many critical elements of the 787 manufacture it is highly probable that they do not have rights for many aspects of its manufacture.

Ncelhr
PCTs searched and examined at the USPTO are researched and undergo substantive re-examination in Europe and are not merely stamped or signed as being valid. PCTs only indicate an opinion on patentability and cannot themselves be used to enforce rights.
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 2:32 pm

Quoting CTRL_ALT_DEL (Reply 21):
Since Boeing has outsourced many critical elements of the 787 manufacture it is highly probable that they do not have rights for many aspects of its manufacture.

Boeing outsourced the manufacturing, not the methods. Most of the methods were developed in-house at Boeing and provided to the suppliers. Anything developed in-house could have a Boeing patent on it, even if FHI/KHI/MHI/Alenia/Vought are using it in their process.

Tom.
 
Joni
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RE: Airbus A380 - More Than 380 Patents.

Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:58 pm

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 12):
For example; Tu, Su and a future Chinese manufacturer are unlikely to honor these patents. It's unlikely they will be compelled by their governments to adhere to WTO rules.

Those patents could be enforced as an airline was taking delivery of the planes in a country where the patents are in force, preventing the airline from taking the plane into use.

Quoting PanAm1971 (Reply 12):
P-S, I'f I were the President of Brazil I would haul both A and B before the WTO and challenge these patents as anti-competitive.

Brazil is a signatory to the PCT and the Paris convention, which ties it into the international patent system.

Quoting Ncelhr (Reply 17):

With the wonderful process known as Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you can extent a patent worldwide once it has been granted by signing a handful of pieces of paper. (and more $$$)

The PCT can be used to extend the geographical extent of a patent, although it isn't quite that easy.

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