In a mammoth judgment of some 344 paragraphs in length, Mr Justice Lewison has ruled that Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class seat patent is valid but not infringed, and that its design rights haven't been infringed either. The ruling, in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd v Premium Aircraft Interiors Group Ltd and Premium Aircraft Interiors UK Ltd  EWHC 26 (Pat) can be read in full here. Judgment was given on Wednesday, 21 January in the Patents Court for England and Wales. While much of it is taken up with a detailed review of the relevant facts, there's a handy referenced abbreviated "principles of patent construction" guide at paragraphs 182-188 that looks as though it may find its way into students' hearts, if not their brains.
Since it may be a while before any of the IPKat team can read the decision in full and comment on it, this blog is pleased to bring you, thanks to the vigilant Chris McLeod (Hammonds), a link to this short note in Design Week -- a publication that is more focused on the chair design itself than on the legal niceties of patent and design law. According to that note:
"Virgin Atlantic was seeking damages potentially running into tens of millions of pounds and an injunction to prevent Contour selling the seat to rival airlines including Delta, Air Canada, and Jet. ...here
The Upper Class seat was designed by Virgin’s in-house design team in collaboration with Pearson Lloyd and entered service in November 2003.
Virgin Atlantic holds the patent and design rights to the seat, and Pearson Lloyd was not involved in the legal action. The consultancy declined to comment on the result.
Paul Carter, chief executive of Contour, says, ‘We are proud of the part we played in the development of the lie-flat bed, and we will continue to use our dedicated design and engineering skills to help our customers set new standards for premium-class air travel'
In a statement, Virgin Atlantic, which plans to appeal against the result, says, ‘We are disappointed with the outcome of the case and will be examining the judgement over the next few days.
‘Virgin Atlantic invests huge amounts in its design and product innovation, and it is a major area of differentiation between us and other airlines'".