Mercedes loses court battle over Airscarf system

Mercedes needs to disable the Airscarf system on every car it sells new in Germany.

A German court has ordered Mercedes-Benz to disable the Airscarf system that's found in many of its convertibles because it believes that parent company Daimler infringed patent rights.

While the term Airscarf is owned by Mercedes, the technology -- which blows hot air on the front passengers' necks -- was patented by Ludwig Schatzinger in 1996. Interestingly, the lawsuit against Daimler was filed by a patent agency, not by the inventor himself. Schatzinger hasn't publicly commented on the court's decision, while Mercedes told German industry trade journal Automobil Woche that it's surprised by the ruling.

Mercedes faces a €250,000 (roughly $283,000) fine if it fails to disable the system in its new cars. The company also needs to remove Airscarf from all of its advertising and promotional materials, and it will need to pay Schatzinger an unspecified amount of money.

Introduced in 1998, the Airscarf ventilation system has been fitted to the SLK, the SLC, the SL, the topless version of the SLS, and the convertible variants of the C-, E-, and S-Class models. Luckily for Mercedes, the ruling isn't retroactive so the Airscarf only needs to be disabled on cars sold after May 9th of this year. Additionally, the court's decision only applies to cars sold in Germany.

All hope is not lost for sun-worshippers. The patent rights expire on December 25th of this year, so convertible buyers will be able to get the system re-activated after that date.

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