Virgin Atlantic has lost a High Court case in which it alleged that seat manufacturer Contour had copied its design for the Upper Class seat.
Virgin Atlantic was seeking damages potentially running into tens of millions of pounds and an injunction to prevent Contour selling the seat to rival airlines including Delta, Air Canada, and Jet. But the claim was thrown out of the High Court yesterday after key differences between the companies’ designs were noted.
The Upper Class seat was designed by Virgin’s in-house design team in collaboration with Pearson Lloyd and entered service in November 2003.
Virgin Atlantic holds the patent and design rights to the seat, and Pearson Lloyd was not involved in the legal action. The consultancy declined to comment on the result.
Paul Carter, chief executive of Contour, says, ‘We are proud of the part we played in the development of the lie-flat bed, and we will continue to use our dedicated design and engineering skills to help our customers set new standards for premium-class air travel.’
In a statement, Virgin Atlantic, which plans to appeal against the result, says, ‘We are disappointed with the outcome of the case and will be examining the judgement over the next few days.
‘Virgin Atlantic invests huge amounts in its design and product innovation, and it is a major area of differentiation between us and other airlines.’