Court orders Bell Helicopter to pay $1.5M in damages to Airbus in patent fight

Court orders Bell Helicopter to pay $1.5M in damages to Airbus in patent fight

The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court ruling that Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.’s Quebec-based subsidiary pay Airbus SE’s helicopter division $1.5 million for a patent violation.

The ruling includes $1 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages tied to its patent for the so-called moustache landing gear.

The legal battle over landing gear has been raging since 2008, when Airbus Helicopters S.A.S. — then known as Eurocopter Group — launched court actions in Canada, France and the United States.

In 2012, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that Bell had copied the landing gear design for some of its light helicopters from Airbus, though Bell modified that design before applying it to any models on the market.

The court found only one of the 16 claims tied to Airbus’ Canadian patent to be valid, though it dubbed Bell’s design a “slavish copy.”

The 2012 decision states Bell — a Texas-based company with commercial helicopter production in Mirabel, Que. — had made plans to manufacture the skid gear and promoted sales of an upcoming model equipped with it — the Bell 429, now used by the Canadian Coast Guard.



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