Federal Court Rules in Eurocopter v. Bell Helicopter Patent Case

Following a six-week trial held in Montréal in January and February 2011, the Federal Court of Canada ruled on the alleged infringement of Eurocopter's Canadian Patent 2,207,787 by Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limitée and on the validity of said patent (Eurocopter (Société par actions simplifiée) v. Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Limitée, 2012 FC 113).

The action was in respect to Eurocopter's 787 Patent which covers a helicopter landing gear design, an embodiment of which Eurocopter implemented on its EC120 and EC130 models.

In 2004, Bell Helicopter began the development of a new landing gear for its Bell 429 helicopter, the legacy landing gear. In 2008, Eurocopter launched an action against Bell Helicopter alleging infringement of its 787 patent. Bell Helicopter denied infringement and attacked the validity of Eurocopter's patent.

After the institution of the proceedings, Bell Helicopter immediately redesigned the landing gear for its model 429 helicopter, resulting in Bell's production landing gear, which was then certified for use on the 429 helicopter and sold to customers. Bell Helicopter quarantined the 21 legacy landing gears it had previously used and which were never certified for sale, pending the outcome of the litigation. Eurocopter subsequently amended its action to allege that Bell Helicopter's production landing gear also infringed the 787 Patent.

In a 150-page decision, the Court ruled that 15 of the 16 claims of the 787 Patent were invalid while affirming the validity of the one remaining claim.

The Court ruled that Bell Helicopter's legacy landing gear infringed the only valid claim of the 787 Patent but that the certified and commercialized production landing gear did not.

The Court issued an injunction enjoining Bell Helicopter from manufacturing, using or selling the legacy landing gear, and ordered Bell Helicopter to destroy, after all appeals, the 21 legacy landing gears it had since quarantined.

The Court held that Bell Helicopter had either intentionally or through willful blindness infringed the 787 Patent by using its legacy landing gear and awarded damages in addition to punitive damages to Eurocopter.

Bell Helicopter has appealed certain portions of this ruling before the Federal Court of Appeal.

Eurocopter has cross-appealed.

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP represented Eurocopter. The team comprised Marek Nitoslawski, Julie Desrosiers, David Turgeon, Chloé Latulippe, Alexandre Abecassis and Olivier Provost-Cao.

Bell Helicopter was represented by Norton Rose Canada LLP. The team comprised Judith Robinson, Joanne Chriqui, Louis Gratton and Marie-Claude Gagnon.