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Leading French Airplane Parts Manufacturer Ateliers de la Haute-Garonne Wins $15 Million Verdict For Willful Patent and Trade Dress Infringement, Unfair Competition and Intentional Interference

April 15, 2014

DELAWARE: A jury in the US District Court for the District of Delaware returned an April 11 verdict in favor of Kaye Scholer client Ateliers de la Haute-Garonne and its fully owned subsidiary F2C2 Systems SAS (AHG), in a case alleging patent infringement, trade dress infringement, unfair competition and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage against German rival Broetje Automation and its American subsidiary Broetje Automation USA.

The jury awarded $9 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages. As the jury determined that Broetje’s patent and trade dress infringements were willful, AHG will also be moving for treble damages and attorney fees.  All of Broetje’s defenses were rejected by the jury.

This suit arose after Broetje purchased AHG’s unique and distinctive rivet dispensing system, used in the aircraft assembly process and for which AHG holds two US patents. Using AHG’s patented design and trade dress, AHG alleged that Broetje unlawfully and intentionally created a virtually identical version that it claimed was its own. In AHG’s 2009 suit against Broetje, the Delaware Federal District Court initially agreed with the defendant that AHG’s claims were invalid on grounds that AHG had failed to disclose the best mode for practicing the invention, as required under US patent law. In May 2013, Kaye Scholer achieved a reversal of this ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The appeals court agreed with Intellectual Property Partner and lead AHG counsel, Scott Lindvall, that AHG inventors had sufficiently disclosed the best mode.

“We are immensely grateful to finally have this matter behind us. From a damages perspective, Kaye Scholer and our lead counsel Scott Lindvall secured a complete victory for us. As we are a family owned business fighting a much larger company that we believe intentionally stole our design, this win is particularly meaningful and a total vindication for our company,” said Mr. Jean-Marc Auriol, AHG’s President and General Manager.

The Kaye Scholer litigation team included Partner Jeff Horowitz, and Associates Paul Margulies and Michelle Marek, and was also assisted by Melanie K. Sharp and James L. Higgins of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP.

Launched more than 45 years ago, Kaye Scholer’s Intellectual Property Department focuses on resolving disputes, both in and out of the courtroom. With an emphasis on patent litigation suits, we combine sophisticated scientific, technical and business knowledge with extensive courtroom experience. We also defend high-stakes trademark, false advertising, and copyright lawsuits and advise companies on trade secrets protection, hearings before the PTO and Section 337 cases before the ITC. Finally, we advise on technology and outsourcing issues, working in conjunction with Kaye Scholer’s transactional teams.

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