Wragge & Co helps Contour win latest battle in long-running dispute with Virgin Atlantic
Wragge & Co's Intellectual Property team has secured victory for two clients, Contour Aerospace Limited and Delta Air lines, Inc in a complex and long-running battle with Virgin Atlantic Airways Limited.
The case concerned the design of flat-bed aircraft seats manufactured by Contour. Virgin Atlantic alleged infringement of three European patents against Contour, Delta Airlines and Air Canada. In the High Court, Mr Justice Floyd found that Contour has not infringed any valid patent of Virgin by sales of its Solar Eclipse Seats.
IP partner Gordon Harris said: "We have a clear decision. There has been no finding of any infringement of any valid patent by Contour or the airlines, which is excellent news for our clients. This important win takes us another step closer to bringing this matter to a final conclusion. Virgin has challenged Contour and Delta on a number of fronts and each time we have worked hard to protect our clients' position. We are very pleased with this result."
It is the latest case in a sustained dispute dating back to 2007 when Virgin Atlantic sued Contour for patent and design right infringement. Since then the parties have been to the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the European Patent Office (EPO). They are due to return to the Supreme Court in 2013 in a case that centres on damages awarded in relation to a patent that was subsequently invalidated by the EPO.
Three Virgin patents have survived attacks on their validity, but two of them are still under opposition from Contour at the European Patent Office.
Gordon Harris led a Wragge & Co team of cross-border IP specialists, which comprised associates Antony Craggs and Simon Spink, and solicitors Olivia Harris and Stuart Wood. Munich partner Michael Schneider and Paris partner Philippe Rousseau also advised. The team worked closely with Iain Purvis QC, Brian Nicholson and Benet Brandreth of 11 South Square. Bird & Bird acted for Air Canada while DLA Piper advised Virgin Atlantic.
An aircraft interior supplier, Contour designs and manufactures high-specification seating and cabin products. Delta is headquartered in Atlanta, US, operating a mainline fleet of more than 700 aircraft. Wragge & Co has acted for Contour (formerly Premium Aircraft Interiors UK Ltd) and Delta throughout their disputes with Virgin Atlantic.
Wragge & Co's 11-partner IP team advises on the full range of IP issues - trade mark, patent, copyright, design rights, brand management, advertising and marketing and franchising - from offices in the UK, Germany, China and Paris. Acting for some of the world's biggest organisations, its track record includes high-profile matters for Dyson, Hasbro, Kingspan Group plc and H. Lundbeck A/S.
For further information about this press release, contact Kathryn Hobbs on +44 (0)121 685 2785, Rebecca Davies on +44 (0)121 685 3819, Gayle Biddle on +44 (0)121 685 2708 or Amy Richards on +44 (0)121 260 9973
This press release may contain information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.