Fish Wins Jury Trial Victory for Sandel

A jury in the Federal District Court in Delaware delivered a verdict on December 5 in favor of Sandel Avionics, ending a litigation saga that began in 2002 when Sandel, and several other aviation technology companies, were sued by Honeywell International for alleged patent infringement. Sandel was represented throughout the litigation by Fish & Richardson.

After a week-long trial, the jury deliberated for five hours and returned with a verdict completely vindicating Sandel: no infringement of Honeywell’s patents.

The case involved patents related to the FAA-mandated Terrain Awareness and Warning System, or “TAWS.” TAWS systems are in use in most U.S. commercial aviation, alerting pilots when their planes are inadvertently flying too close to the ground or other terrain. The systems include electronic displays of terrain and voice alerts warning the pilot of potential danger.

Other defendants in the case settled before trial. Sandel Avionics, confident in its innovations and the Fish trial team, who had won another jury verdict of non-infringement in a second, similar case brought by Honeywell in 2003, went to trial again to defend its technology.

“Honeywell never understood the moral imperative for Sandel in this case,” said Howard Pollack, a principal at Fish and co-lead trial counsel for Sandel with Frank Scherkenbach. “Sandel is a small company in Vista, California, and a true innovator in the field of cockpit avionics. This has always been a do-or-die case for Sandel, as Honeywell, with many billions in revenue, had the resources to try and starve Sandel out of business or intimidate it into a settlement over patent claims that we always believed and were ultimately proven to have no merit.”

“It is particularly satisfying to represent a small, innovative company when it is wrongly attacked by a giant,” he added.