boeing 787 dreamliner Pratt Sues to Prevent Rolls Royce from Using Jet Engine Fan Blade Design

Boeing 737 could be delayed again

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney is raising the stakes in a dispute with rival Rolls-Royce by seeking to stop shipments of Rolls-Royce engines for Boeing’s next passenger jetliner.

Pratt & Whitney said Friday it filed patent-infringement complaints against the British company at the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.K. High Court. The dispute centers on who owns the designs for fan blades used in modern commercial airliners.

Rolls-Royce is competing with General Electric Co. to build engines for Boeing’s new 787, which is made of lighter composite materials and designed to be fuel-efficient. The plane is in the final stages of flight-testing.

Boeing had planned to begin delivering the plane to airlines early next year, but Aviation Week reported Friday that Boeing has told customers to expect a delay of up to 10 months.

Pratt & Whitney’s patent-infringement challenge also covers another Rolls-Royce engine that is used in the giant Airbus A380 jetliner.

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of East Hartford-based United Technologies Corp., says Rolls-Royce’s Trent 900 and Trent 1000 engines use fan-blade designs that the U.S. company invented.

The companies were already fighting in federal courts in Connecticut, where Pratt & Whitney is based, and Virginia.

Rolls-Royce sued Pratt & Whitney earlier this year for patent infringement, and Pratt & Whitney filed a countersuit in September.

Pratt & Whitney claims that Rolls-Royce hid information about existing patents to get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to approve its fan-blade technology.

United Technologies said it spent decades developing its geared turbofan jet engine, and Rolls-Royce, lacking a similar engine, was trying to undercut a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and GE to build engines for the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane in production.

Pratt & Whitney said Rolls-Royce had failed three times to win patent office approval for an engine part called the fan stage, which is a set of blades on a rotating hub.

A Rolls-Royce spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment. A Boeing spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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