Car Industry

Patent dispute causes Mercedes-Benz to disable neck-warming Airscarf in Germany

If it fails to do so, it faces fines upward of a quarter-million dollars.

Daimler AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars

While Mercedes has the rights to the name Airscarf, it apparently doesn't have the right to use that patented technology in its convertibles.

Mercedes-Benz

There are bad days, and then there are days where a court forces you to disable a really neat, but not at all new piece of technology because of a patent dispute. You might able to guess what kind of bad day Mercedes-Benz is having.

According to a report in Automobil Woche, Mercedes must disable its Airscarf technology in every new vehicle it sells inside Germany. Airscarf is a relatively straightforward feature -- a vent built into the seat blows hot air on your neck on chilly days. The ban grandfathers in previously sold vehicles, so disabling Airscarf is only necessary on new cars leaving dealerships after the court ruling.

The issue lies with a 1996 patent that lays claim to the technology. Thankfully, the patent expires on Christmas Day 2016, so Mercedes won't be forced to block this tech for more than a few months. Airscarf can be included on just about every convertible the company sells, including the SL-Class, SLK-Class, SLC-Class and convertible variants of its sedans.

If Mercedes doesn't comply with this ruling, it could face a €250,000 (converted, about $283,000) fine. It must also remove Airscarf from its advertisements, and it must pay the actual patent holder an unspecified sum of money. Thankfully, summer is right around the corner, so this shouldn't be too big of an issue. Until late November, at least.

Hat tip to Left Lane News!