(Seattle – January 26, 2012) – When Joe Clark and his business associates founded Aviation Partners, Inc. (API) in 1991, he had no idea that he’d be locked in a legal battle with European government-backed aviation giant Airbus.
Now Aviation Partners has filed a response to the pre-emptive lawsuit Airbus recently filed that seeks to invalidate Aviation Partners’ patent (number 5,348,253). This patent was issued in 1994 on the innovative Blended Winglet technology that is the foundation of the small Seattle-based business. API Blended Winglets are in service on more than 5,000 aircraft around the world and, because of their improved aerodynamic efficiency, have saved more than 3 billion gallons of jet fuel.
In its response, Aviation Partners has requested that the Airbus lawsuit be dismissed or transferred to Seattle, Washington.
Aviation Partners began discussions with Airbus in 2006 regarding the use of its blended winglets on Airbus A320 series aircraft. Through a series of negotiations, the parties entered into a memorandum of understanding in July 2011. The intent of this agreement was to form a joint venture to use Aviation Partners’ blended winglets on Airbus A320 aircraft.
In the meantime, Airbus, without notifying Aviation Partners, sought a patent in Europe for its own “Sharklet” wing-tip.
Later in the summer of 2011, Airbus “provided API with data and information (including engineering specifications and drawings) for Airbus’s ‘Sharklet design,’” Joe Clark indicated in a sworn declaration accompanying API’s response. “API’s engineers analyzed the Airbus materials and noticed the striking similarity between API’s Blended Winglet… and the Airbus ‘Sharklet’ design.”
Aviation Partners’ full response and supporting documents can be accessed at:
Aviation Partners, Inc.
Seattle, Washington based Aviation Partners, Inc. (API) is the world leader in advanced Winglet technology. API’s patented* Performance Enhancing Blended Winglets have been designed and certified for a number of commercial and business aircraft; applications include Boeing, Falcon, Hawker and Gulfstream airframes. Over 5,000 in-service aircraft have saved an estimated 3 billion gallons of fuel. In addition to the 5-7% improvement in fuel burn, Blended Winglets have reduced global CO2 emissions by over 32 million tons. Additional airframe programs are in-development for existing Blended Winglet technology, and future Winglet designs will lead to greater incremental improvements in performance, fuel savings and emissions reduction. (* patent #5348253)