ArvinMeritor wins appeal in transmission patent infringement suit

ArvinMeritor, Inc. announced it has won its appeal in the patent infringement suit brought by Eaton Corp. against ZF Meritor's Engine Synchro Shift(TM) (ESS) transmission system. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the Delaware trial court and found that ArvinMeritor did not infringe on the Eaton patent. "We are pleased that the Appellate Court ruled in ArvinMeritor's favor and dissolved the injunction," said M. Lee Murrah, chief patent counsel of ArvinMeritor. "ArvinMeritor, and its predecessor Rockwell International Corp., have believed from the beginning that Eaton's position was unwarranted, and the Court of Appeals agreed.""This is a significant victory for our transmission business and, more importantly, for our customers," said Tom Gosnell, president of ArvinMeritor's Commercial Vehicle Systems business and board member of the ZF Meritor joint venture. "Our advanced technologies are completely vindicated, and we will continue to rigorously defend ourselves against any company that tries to stifle our technological advancements for the commercial vehicle industry."The Court of Appeals narrowed Eaton's overly broad interpretation of its patent. As a result, Eaton cannot apply its patent against ArvinMeritor's ESS transmission or any other transmission that does not contain the structures listed in the patent claim, according to ArvinMeritor's outside legal counsel, Welsh & Katz Ltd.Following the initial lawsuit filing by Eaton in July 1997, ZF Meritor -- a joint venture created in 1999 between ArvinMeritor and ZF -- was forced in September 2001 to remove ESS from the market, following the initial verdict in the competitor's favor."This type of legal action by Eaton prevented the industry and our North American customers from enjoying the unique benefits of ESS during the past 18 months and attempted to create a doubt on our advanced shift systems," said Rick Martello, president of ZF Meritor. "Now, we must assess the practicality of re-introducing this shifting feature on our transmissions."

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