Otis President's Elevator Patent Weathers Claim From Schindler

The Hartford Courant

Otis Elevator Co. has settled patent claims over the use of belts to lift elevators with Schindler Holding AG, which will license the technology from the United Technologies Corp. division.

The six years of lawsuits focused on a patent awarded to Pedro S. Baranda, the current president of the $12.5 billion business who worked as a research engineer for United Technologies then principal engineer of Otis.

Schindler, the second largest elevator manufacturer behind Otis, asked in 2008 for a federal court to invalidate the patent for the belt. The company claimed that other companies had sold similar products, and that it wished to test and sell its belt technology, which generally is composed of a number of smaller metal wires encased in polyurethane.

The use of belts, instead of traditional metal cables, has let elevator companies develop smaller energy-efficiency lift motors. These new elevator systems require less space, something they say is a plus for building managers.

The agreement announced Wednesday by both companies states that Schindler will license the patented belt drive technology from Otis. The settlement resolves disputes that have been filed in the United States, Europe and China.

"This agreement underscores the significant and valuable innovation of belt drive technology to the elevator industry, and allows Otis and Schindler to focus on their core businesses," the companies said in a statement.

Pricing on the licenses were not disclosed, but the Swiss company said the payments will not significantly affect its financial results this year.

Otis filed for the patent in 1998 and it was awarded in 2004. Also listed as inventors on the patent were Ary O. Mello, a Farmington employee of Otis, and Hugh J. O'Donnell, who worked in Longmeadow, Mass.

A spokeswoman from Otis did not return calls comment on the settlement.

A separate patent case involving the two companies reached U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2012 over claims that a Schindler business unit had patented magnetic card or similar identification technology that would direct a person to a specific floor without having to use buttons. The appeals court sided with Otis, who challenged the patent and uses similar technology in an elevator in New York's 7 World Trade Center.

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