Federal Circuit & IPR Wins for B/E Aerospace

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March 2016

Irell & Manella LLP delivered B/E Aerospace two additional victories in B/E's multi-venue dispute with MAG Aerospace Industries, a Zodiac Aerospace company, over aircraft toilet patents. On March 23, 2016, in a unanimous precedential order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court decision that found B/E not to infringe MAG’s patents. In a parallel inter partes review (IPR) victory, on March 18, 2016, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated the three patents that MAG asserted against B/E, concluding that they were obvious based on prior art.

MAG sued B/E in the Central District of California in August 2013 claiming that B/E's patented lightweight Ecosystems aircraft vacuum toilet infringed three of its patents. The patents pertained to certain vacuum toilet assemblies and methods for repairing such toilets (U.S. Patent Numbers 6,353,942; 6,536,054; and 6,536,055). B/E defended against MAG's claims in district court while also filing petitions in the Patent Office to invalidate the patents.

After claim construction hearings in July 2014, the district court issued a ruling highly favorable to B/E. On January 23, 2015, U.S. District Judge James Otero then granted three summary judgments in B/E’s favor, concluding that B/E's innovative, lightweight vacuum toilets do not infringe MAG's patents, prompting the case to be dismissed. That ruling was affirmed by the Federal Circuit on March 23, 2016.

Meanwhile, even though B/E had already won on noninfringement in district court, the invalidity challenges were proceeding in IPRs at the Patent Office, which then invalidated the patents. The Patent Office’s March 18, 2016 rulings establish that all challenged claims in MAG’s patents are unpatentable due to multiple prior art references.

B/E Aerospace is represented by Irell & Manella LLP. The Irell team is led by Morgan Chu and Andrei Iancu both in the federal courts and at the Patent Office. Andrei Iancu argued at the Federal Circuit hearing on February 1, 2016. Irell's Ellisen Turner and Benjamin Haber argued on behalf of B/E at the IPR hearing on November 19, 2015. In addition, the Irell IPR team includes Michael Fleming, the former chief administrative patent judge, and Grace Chen. The Irell federal court team also includes Richard Birnholz, Harry Mittleman, Benjamin Haber, Grace Chen and Daniel Switts. Additionally, the team included our late partner Christopher Vanderlaan, who passed away at 50 years of age in May 2015.