airplane-airbusa380.jpgLos Angeles – A U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia ruled against Rolls-Royce Group in a patent infringement case that it brought against United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney over fan technology.

U.S. District Judge Leoni Brinkema rejected the Rolls-Royce infringement claims after determining Pratt’s GP7200 Fan Stage is not in violation of a patent issued in 2000 for a Rolls-Royce Trent engine used on the Airbus SAS A380 airplane.  Judge Brinkema ruled that the two competing technologies are not the same because the Rolls-Royce patent covers a fan stage with three sweep regions, while the fans made by Pratt have four.  In the claim, Rolls-Royce was requesting $3.7 billion in damages but was shot down by the judge, who stated that the London based manufacturer of jet engines was exaggerating the effect of the alleged infringement on its sales. 

“Rolls-Royce takes protection of its technology and intellectual property very seriously,” a spokesperson for the company said.  “We are disappointed by today’s ruling and will carefully consider our options.”

Rolls-Royce, the second largest maker of jet engines in the world, competes against Pratt and also General Electric to provide the jet engines for the Airbus A380.  General Electric is the world’s largest jet engine manufacturer.  The sweep fan blade technology at issue gives the jet engine greater resistance to damage by foreign objects, more stability, and lower noise levels. 

“The court’s ruling confirms what we have always maintained, that our products do not infringe the Rolls patent,” said Pratt in an e-mailed statement.  If Rolls chooses to appeal the decision, we will continue to defend ourselves.”

In November 2010, Pratt filed its own patent infringement claim against Rolls-Royce with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington.  An October trial is scheduled to be heard before the Commission, which has the authority to reject any imports that are found to be in violation of U.S. patents.