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VIRGIN ATLANTIC AIRWAYS LTD v PREMIUM AIRCRAFT INTERIORS UK LTD

A patent concerning an aircraft seating system for flat-bed seats was valid and infringed by a company that had been manufacturing aircraft seating. The court also gave guidance on the principles of claim construction and what a skilled reader coming to a patent might be expected to know and thus take account of when discerning what patentees intended.

3 November 2009

The appellant airline and patentee (V) appealed against a decision (Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd v Premium Aircraft Interiors Group Ltd (2009) EWHC 26 (Pat), (2009) ECDR 11) that aircraft seats made by the respondent (P) did not infringe its United Kingdom patent. P cross-appealed on the contingent basis that if the patent was infringed it was, in any event, anticipated, obvious or invalid for want of novelty. V's flat-bed seat, known as the "upper class suite", was the commercialisation of a seat and seating system disclosed by a United Kingdom patent for use in an aircraft. The patent described the invention as "a novel seating system for a passenger vehicle, particularly an aircraft and a seating unit for a passenger seating system" which took the form of an inward-facing herringbone arrangement of seats. One of the objects of the system was the optimisation and utilisation of space behind the seat, referred to as "lost space". V alleged that P had infringed its patent. The judge ...

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