Reman case could set precedent

Will court case affect the future of aftermarket parts?

Published:  15 March, 2013

A Supreme Court ruling could make it easier for the aftermarket to remanufacture an OEM's product without the risk of being sued, according to Withers & Rogers, a UK law firm specialising in patents.

The court's ruling relates to a long-standing patent dispute and according to the law firm threatens to undermine literally hundreds of commercial patents.

Schütz v Werit concerns a European patent exclusively licensed by German commercial water tank manufacturer Schütz in respect of its intermediate bulk containers, which have a metal "cage" around a large plastic bottle used to transport liquids. Specifically, the patented technology is a 'dimple' used on either side of the weld joints that hold the container's cage together. The 'dimple' has been found to improve the cage's structural integrity.

The judge ruled in favour of Werit on appeal. According to Withers & Rogers, this ruling could have serious repercussions for OEMs in the automotive industry, as well as aerospace and oil and gas sectors. Paul Foot, partner and patent attorney at Withers & Rogers, said: "This decision will come as a real blow for component manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace and oil and gas industries."

"Basically, OEMs won't be able rely on a patent held for a technology applied in part of their product to provide commercial protection for the product in its entirety" he concluded.

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