HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — In a continuing battle over engine part designs, jet engine-maker Pratt & Whitney on Monday sued Rolls Royce, accusing the British company of misleading the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to obtain a patent.
Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., said in its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford that Rolls-Royce's patent is invalid and unenforceable. The East Hartford-based company accused Rolls Royce of unlawfully using its patent and taking other actions to harm Pratt & Whitney.
A spokeswoman for Rolls Royce did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In August, Rolls Royce filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against United Technologies, alleging that fan blades in a United Technologies geared turbofan engine infringe on a Rolls-Royce patent. Pratt & Whitney denies the accusation.
"As one front in its campaign, Rolls-Royce has resorted to fraud and deceit to obtain a patent," Pratt & Whitney said in its lawsuit. "Rolls Royce is now attempting to use its fraudulently procured patent to wrongfully attack United Technologies Corp./Pratt & Whitney."
It said Rolls Royce is envious of the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan and "fears its market potential."
United Technologies has spent $1 billion over 20 years to develop its geared turbofan jet engine. Pratt & Whitney says the engine significantly improves fuel, generates fewer carbon emissions, cuts airlines' fuel costs and produces less noise than other airplane engines.
The engines would be installed on Bombardier and Mitsubishi planes, and Airbus will consider it, among others, on its A320 if it proceeds with the program, Pratt & Whitney said in its lawsuit.
Analyst Matt Collins at Edward Jones said Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan is United Technologies' highest profile product "so they need to see this move forward." If Pratt & Whitney sells its engine to Airbus, which has said it will make a decision soon, "it would allow Pratt to make a major comeback," Collins said.
Rolls Royce was rejected three times by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in its application for a fan stage, which is a part of a jet engine, Pratt & Whitney said. It said Rolls Royce eventually — and fraudulently — obtained a patent, which it is now using against Pratt & Whitney.
Bob Saia, a Pratt & Whitney vice president, said Rolls Royce's lawsuit will not have an impact on customers or its engine program, which he said is on schedule to begin service in 2013.