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Bell 429 Production Skid Gear does not infringe on Eurocopter patent

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Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company announced in the case of Eurocopter vs. Bell Helicopter that the Canadian Federal Court has ruled that the current Bell 429 production skid gear, which was at the center of the case, does not infringe the Eurocopter '787 Patent. All Bell 429's have been and will continue to be delivered with the current production gear.

"We are pleased with the court's ruling that the current Bell 429 production skid gear does not infringe the Eurocopter '787 Patent, " said John L. Garrison, President and CEO of Bell Helicopter. "Integrity is at the core of who we are as a company and what we believe. Bell Helicopter would never knowingly violate the intellectual property of others."

The Court found 15 of the 16 claims of Eurocopter's Canadian patent invalid. The Court did find that one of the 16 claims was valid and was infringed by the original, pre-production sleigh skid gear, however, this original skid gear was never placed into production or sold to a customer. "While we respect the Court's opinion, based on prior art, we believe that the patent should never have been granted for the sleigh gear design. We are considering an appeal on the findings of both validity and infringement," said Garrison.

"This ruling is a victory for Bell Helicopter, validating the design of the 429 production skid gear" said Garrison. "We intend to continue to vigorously defend the production gear in the pending infringement suits in the U.S. and France. We believe the Canadian court's decision provides strong support for our position and remain optimistic that we will obtain positive results in those courts."

The Bell 429 is the world's newest and most advanced light twin-engine helicopter. It has set the standard for light twins; delivers exceptional speed, range, hover performance and enhanced safety margins, with comfort and cost management unmatched by any competitor. With superior speed, best-in-class cabin volume, state-of-the-art glass flight deck that enhances crew situational awareness, and Bell Helicopter's industry leading support and services, the Bell 429 is quickly becoming the preferred aircraft in the light, twin-engine market.

The Bell 429 was certified in 2009 by Transport Canada, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It was recently granted an exception by Transport Canada to operate at 7500 lbs gross weight.

The Bell 429 is in service today with aircraft operating around the world. "We look forward to continuing to offer the Bell 429 with its current skid gear which is generating significant interest and excitement worldwide – performing well in all of its missions", said Garrison.

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