Airbus successfully tested Aviation Partners’ fuel-saving winglets then filed suit to invalidate the patent

On November 30, Airbus issued a Press Release expounding on their successful test of the “Sharklet” wing-tip device on the company’s A320 development aircraft. Airbus expects a 3.5% reduction in fuel consumption as a result of use of the device.

Not stated in the PR, but gleaned from the pages of a lawsuit filed the next day in Austin TX, and reported in Bloomberg (Airbus SAS v. Aviation Partners Inc., 11cv1030, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin)), Airbus is attempting to invalidate (avoid paying royalties on) the patent on the wing-tips which is held by Boeing affiliate Aviation Partners Inc. Though patent licenses in the aircraft industry carry median royalty rates from 5%-10% of net sales, isolating what directly related “sales” are in this case might be difficult, even if the patent is upheld.