Eaton Wins Injunction against ArvinMeritor

Eaton Corp. won an injunction against ArvinMeritor in a patent infringement suit involving auto-shift truck transmissions.

The Sept. 19 decision by Chief Judge Joseph Farnan of the U.S. District Court in Delaware prohibits ArvinMeritor from manufacturing or selling its Engine Synchro Shift automation system.

Tim Morscheck, vice president and general manager of Eaton’s Truck Electronics Systems Division, said, “We believe that the jury and the court gave careful and deliberate consideration to this case, and that the correct result was reached. We welcome fair competition in the marketplace, but we refuse to compete against our own patented technology.”

“We are going to appeal,” said D. Mike Pennington, ArvinMeritor’s senior director of marketing communications for the Americas.

Morscheck said Eaton is confident that the ruling will be upheld.

In its lawsuit, Eaton claimed the Rockwell ESS transmission, manufactured and sold first by Rockwell, then by Meritor and ArvinMeritor, infringed an Eaton patent for a clutchless shifting system used in Eaton Fuller AutoShift transmissions and other Eaton transmissions. The system allows drivers to shift heavy-duty truck transmissions without using the master clutch.

The dispute between Eaton and ArvinMeritor has been in Farnan’s court for years. A jury ruled on July 1, 1998, that Rockwell and Meritor had infringed upon Eaton’s patent, but left to the judge the decision of whether to honor Eaton’s request for an injunction.

ArvinMeritor will not sell the ESS until the appeals process has run its course, Pennington said. “But we only sell about 80 of those transmissions a year, so the injunction is not going to put us out of business.” The injunction doesn’t affect the company’s second- and third-generation SureShift and FreedomLine automated transmissions, Pennington said.