A dispute over property rights between ISG and Jochen Schweizer, and Skyventure, has concluded with the withdrawal of important lawsuits. Leisure providers Jochen Schweizer and ISG can continue to operate their indoor skydiving centres in Munich and Bottrop. The decision suggests the three parties have reached a settlement.
11 February 2021 by Mathieu Klos
A dispute over indoor flying facilities for skydivers has ended. Now, Jochen Schweizer and ISG can continue operating their indoor skydiving centres. In December 2020, Skyventure withdrew the appeal in the grant procedure for European patent EP 22 87 073, which protects vertical wind tunnel freefall simulators. The US company develops and operates these types of wind tunnel.
Skyventure’s two competitors, ISG and Jochen Schweizer, have challenged the patent. ISG operates a skydiving centre in Bottrop, in North Rhine-Westphalia. The company also develops such indoor skydiving technology. Jochen Schweizer operates a centre close to Munich.
JUVE Patent understands that the companies have also concluded other cases in Germany, including three infringement proceedings brought by Skyventure against two ISG subsidiaries at the Düsseldorf Regional Court.
The withdrawal of the suit indicates that the parties have reached a settlement. However, none of the companies confirmed this.
Skyventure ignited the dispute around five years ago, when it filed a suit against Indoor Skydiving Bottrop GmbH and Indoor Skydiving Germany for the infringement of EP 073 at the Regional Court Düsseldorf. IGS then attacked the property rights of the US company. It also claimed infringement of German utility model DE 202005021913.
As a counterstrike, ISG challenged both IP rights. Skyventure’s action against ISG apparently caused Jochen Schweizer to fear for the launch of its facility near Munich in 2017. The company thus filed also an opposition to EP 073, pre-empting the threat of an infringement suit.
A crucial factor behind the case’s development was Skyventure withdrawing its appeal in the granting procedure for EP 073 at the European Patent Office. The US company filed the patent in Europe in 2010.
ISG and Jochen Schweizer took the action against the granting of the patent independently from one another. Two other companies also filed oppositions for a short period.
However, in October 2016, the EPO’s opposition division upheld EP 073. But it narrowed the patent to such an extent that ISG and Jochen Schweizer can operate their centres without infringing the patent. Skyventure then appealed the decision at the Boards of Appeal (case ID: T0043/17-3.2.01). But ISG was not completely satisfied. Subsequently the company lodged an appeal to fully destroy the patent.
Then, last December, Skyventure withdrew its appeal after the BoA judges gave Skyventure little hope of success. However, the judges have not formally decided on the outcome of the appeal.
While ISG has operated the centre in Bottrop for some time, Jochen Schweizer only opened its Munich facility in 2017. Both are expected to extend their businesses.
Skyventure is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of vertical wind tunnels for use in the sports and leisure sector. In such facilities, skydivers float on a strong wind stream as if on a cushion of air, which simulates a freefall. Skyventure operates centres in France and Denmark, although the company is not yet active in Germany.
But it does offer its technology globally, under the brand IFly, to private and military operators of such facilities.
Long term, Germany is considered a growth market for leisure providers like Jochen Schweizer, Skyventure and others. Comparatively, there are still few such facilities in the country.
Meissner Bolte and Prinz & Partner have advised clients ISG and Jochen Schweizer since the dispute with Skyventure began. But the US company changed its litigators in the course of the dispute.
UK patent attorney firm Gill Jennings & Every conducted the opposition proceedings for EP 073. German IP boutique Grünecker then took over the appeal against the EPO ruling.
Patent attorney Jens Haverkamp from Iserlohn near Düsseldorf is now registered as the representative for EP 073. The solo patent attorney also looks after other Skyventure patents.
Düsseldorf-based IP boutique Rospatt Osten Pross conducted the infringement proceedings in Düsseldorf for Skyventure.
Jens Haverkamp (Iserlohn): (patent attorney)
Grünecker (Berlin): Patrick Erk (patent attorney) (public knowledge)
Gill Jennings & Every (London): Lucy Samuels (public knowledge)
Rospatt Osten Pross (Düsseldorf): Bernward Zollner, Simon Klopschinski
Meissner Bolte (Munich): Stefan M. Zech (patent attorney), Tobias Wuttke
For Jochen Schweizer
Prinz & Partner (Munich): Jürgen Strass (patent attorney)
European Patent Office, Boards of Appeal, Board 3.2.01
Giovanni Pricolo (chairman), Winfried Marx (rapporteur), Peter Guntz