Ski lifts

LST infringes Innova ski lift patents

Chairlift manufacturer LST has infringed the ski lift patents of Innova, in a case heard at Düsseldorf Regional Court. The case centres on a lift system in Winterberg, a resort town located in the west of Germany. Parallel proceedings in France are scheduled for September.

29 April 2019 by Christina Schulze

Ski lift patent, Innova, LST Innova has sued manufacturer LST over three ski lift patents. ©Doppelmayr

The dispute between LST and Innova concerns the patented bars integral to chairlifts. The patents protect a swivelling bar, with a footrest, used to prevent passengers from falling.

In Germany, infringement proceedings concern the two European patents EP 21 74 852 B1 (4a O 86/17) and EP 21 74 854 B1 (4a 51/18), and the German patent DE 10 05 1170 B4 (4a 52/18). The German patent is already in its nineteenth year of protection. A parallel case is pending in France (17/06554).

Austria-based patent holding Innova is wholly owned by a parent company, cable car manufacturer Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group. The group supplies cable cars for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in China and has an annual turnover of €846 million.

Innova manages over a thousand patents for various cable car technologies.

Top dog vs. newcomer

Rüdiger Pansch, Rospatt Osten Pross

Rüdiger Pansch

Founded in Germany in 1989, manufacturing group LST has been part of the MND Group since 2012. The group has an annual turnover of €76.4 million. Its headquarters and development centre are situated in the French Alps and the group also includes manufacturers of snow-making and mountain safety systems, as well as amusement parks.

Following infringement proceedings at Düsseldorf Regional Court, it is likely that the next stage in the patent dispute is the nullity proceedings. The German Federal Patent Court has set dates for 16 January, 13 February and 17 September 2020.

In France, the case also concerns EP 21 74 854 B1 and EP 21 74 855, the latter of which is not part of the German dispute. The pleas are scheduled for hearing on 19 September 2019.

Michael Schneider, partner, Pinsent Masons, patent litigation

Michael Schneider

Munich-based attorneys Lang & Tomerius filed the German patent in 2000. The European patents were filed in 2010 by Vienna-based Reinhard Hehenberger, patent attorney at Beer & Partner. Hehenberger enlisted lawyer Rüdiger Pansch from Rospatt Osten Pross for the infringement proceedings.

On the opposing side, Philippe Verriest, French and European patent attorney at Lyon-based Germain & Maureau, has a well-established client relationship with LST.

Verriest also brought in German lawyer Michael Schneider, partner at Pinsent Masons.

For Innova
Rospatt Osten Pross (Düsseldorf): Rüdiger Pansch
J. P. Karsenty & Associés (Paris): Béatrice Moreau-Margotin,
Beer & Partner (Wien): Reinhard Hehenberger

For LST
Pinsent Masons (München): Michael Schneider, Peter Koch
Germain & Maureau (Lyon): Philippe Verriest
Lamy Lexell: (Lyon): Marie Duverne-Hanachowicz, Laurie-Anne Le Calvez

Regional Court Düsseldorf, 4a Civil Chamber
Tim Crummenerl (presiding judge)