Aviation Partners seeks injunction on sharklet A320 sales

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Aviation Partners has escalated a patent dispute with Airbus by asking a US court in Seattle to slap an injunction on all new sales of sharklet-equipped Airbus A320s.

In response, Airbus has asked US District judge James Robart to order both parties to handle the Aviation Partners complaint outside the court using arbitration.

The injunction request by Aviation Partners on 31 July is the latest and potentially most damaging move in an eight-month dispute between Airbus and Aviation Partners over the intellectual origins of the A320 sharklet.

Aviation Partners accuses Airbus of "copying" the sharklet design using Aviation Partners' proprietary information and data supplied to the airframer under a non-disclosure agreement, the Seattle-based supplier says in court documents.

Aviation Partners now wants Robart to order an injunction to prohibit Airbus "from advertising, promotion, marketing, importing, distributing, manufacturing, offering for sale, or selling its Sharklet winglet", the company's court filing states.

But Robart must decide whether the non-disclosure agreement compels both parties to first seek arbitration.

Aviation Partners notes in its request for an injunction that the non-disclosure agreement includes an arbitration provision, but allows either party to take the matter to court.

Airbus argues in a 6 August response that the non-disclosure agreement requires any dispute to be "determined and settled by arbitration".

Airbus launched the legal battle on 2 December. Anticipating a patent infringement lawsuit by Aviation Partners, Airbus filed a lawsuit to have the court declare the sharklet design was not copied from the Aviation Partners blended winglet.

Starting in 2006, Airbus accepted a solicitation by Aviation Partners to demonstrate its blended winglet on the A320. A series of discussions and flight demonstrations following, culminating in the signing of a memorandum of understanding in July 2011, which Aviation Partners says in court documents was intended to form a joint venture for integrating the blended winglet on the A320.

But the joint venture was never formed, and Aviation Partners claims its analysis the sharklet design was based on its own blended winglet.

Airbus counters in court documents that it had been working on blended winglets long before initiating discussions with Aviation Partners in 2006, and the sharklet design evolved independently of the Aviation Partners technology.