Pratt & Whitney Challenges Rolls Engine Patent

September 28, 2010

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US aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney sued British rival Rolls-Royce on Monday, claiming that a Rolls patent on a fan blade it uses in jet engines is invalid.

Pratt's suit, filed in US District Court in Connecticut, is a counter-move to an earlier Rolls-Royce complaint, filed in May in US District Court in Virginia, which charged Pratt with violating a Rolls-Royce patent on fan blades, one of the most visible components at the front of a jet engine.

The fight comes at an important time for East Hartford, Connecticut-based Pratt, which aims to land its next-generation geared turbofan engine on Airbus or Boeing's best-selling narrow-body jets.

Pratt's suit contends that Rolls filed its suit in part to attempt to prevent its US rival from selling its geared turbofan engine. It contends that Rolls was issued a patent based on an aspect of blade design that had been long used by engine makers.

Pratt plans to continue marketing that engine, which has already been adopted by smaller plane makers including Bombardier, as it fights the suit.

"We are confident that the lawsuit filed by Rolls-Royce will have no impact to our customers on any programme at Pratt & Whitney," said Bob Saia, a Pratt vice president, in a statement.