|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2018
|Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]|
The Company is subject to various legal proceedings, claims, and litigation arising in the ordinary course of business. While the outcome of these matters is currently not determinable, we do not expect these matters will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. However, the results of these matters cannot be predicted with certainty. Should the Company fail to prevail in any legal matter or should several legal matters be resolved against the Company in the same reporting period, then the financial results of that particular reporting period could be materially adversely affected.
On December 29, 2010, Lufthansa Technik AG (“Lufthansa”) filed a Statement of Claim in the Regional State Court of Mannheim, Germany. Lufthansa’s claim asserts that our subsidiary, AES, sold, marketed, and brought into use in Germany a power supply system that infringes upon a German patent held by Lufthansa. Lufthansa sought an order requiring AES to stop selling and marketing the allegedly infringing power supply system, a recall of allegedly infringing products sold to commercial customers in Germany since November 26, 2003, and compensation for damages related to direct sales of the allegedly infringing power supply system in Germany (referred to as “direct sales”). The claim does not specify an estimate of damages and a related damages claim is being pursued by Lufthansa in separate court proceedings in an action filed in July 2017, as further discussed below.
In February 2015, the Regional State Court of Mannheim, Germany rendered its decision that the patent was infringed. The judgment does not require AES to recall products that are already installed in aircraft or have been sold to other end users. On July 15, 2015, Lufthansa advised AES of their intention to enforce the accounting provisions of the decision, which required AES to provide certain financial information regarding direct sales of the infringing product in Germany to enable Lufthansa to make an estimate of requested damages. Additionally, if Lufthansa provides the required bank guarantee specified in the decision, the Company may be required to offer a recall of products that are in the distribution channels in Germany. No such bank guarantee has been issued to date. As of March 31, 2018, there are no products subject to the order in the distribution channels in Germany.
The Company appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe. On November 15, 2016, the Court issued its ruling and upheld the lower court’s decision. The Company submitted a petition to grant AES leave for appeal to the German Federal Supreme Court. On April 18, 2018, the German Federal Supreme Court granted Astronics’ petition in part, namely with respect to the part concerning the amount of damages. We estimate that the German Federal Supreme Court will provide its ruling on this issue in late 2018 or in early 2019.
In July 2017, Lufthansa filed an action in the Regional State Court of Mannheim for payment of damages caused by the alleged patent infringement of AES, related to direct sales of the allegedly infringing product in Germany (associated with the original December 2010 action discussed above). In this action, which was served to AES on April 11, 2018, Lufthansa claims payment of approximately $6.2 million plus interest. According to AES's assessment, this claim is significantly higher than justified. We estimate AES’s potential exposure to be approximately $1 million to $3 million, and have recorded a reserve of $1 million associated with this matter which is management's best estimate of the probable exposure. Such amount is recorded within Other Accrued Expenses and Selling, General and Administrative Expenses in the accompanying financial statements as of and for the three month period ended March 31, 2018. An oral hearing has been scheduled on November 16, 2018. A first instance decision is in this matter is expected in early 2019.
On December 29, 2017, Lufthansa filed another infringement action against AES in the Regional State Court of Mannheim claiming that sales by AES to its international customers have infringed Lufthansa's patent if AES's customers later shipped the products to Germany (referred to as "indirect sales"). This action, therefore, addresses sales other than those covered by the action filed on December 29, 2010, discussed above. In this action, served on April 11, 2018, Lufthansa seeks an order obliging AES to provide information and accounting and a finding that AES owes damages for the attacked indirect sales. AES will vigorously defend against the action. No amount of claimed damages has been specified by Lufthansa and such amount is not quantifiable at this time. A first instance decision in this matter is expected in early 2019. As loss exposure is neither probable nor estimable at this time, the Company has not recorded any liability with respect to this litigation as of March 31, 2018.
In December 2017, Lufthansa filed patent infringement cases in the United Kingdom and in France against AES. AES has been served in the case in France, but not in the case in the United Kingdom. In those cases, Lufthansa accuses AES of manufacturing, using, selling and offering for sale a power supply system that infringes upon a Lufthansa patent in those respective countries. As loss exposure is neither probable nor estimable at this time, the Company has not recorded any liability with respect to these matters as of March 31, 2018.
On November 26, 2014, Lufthansa filed a complaint in the United States District for the Western District of Washington. Lufthansa’s complaint in that action alleges that AES manufactures, uses, sells and offers for sale a power supply system that infringes upon a U.S. patent held by Lufthansa. The patent at issue in the U.S. action is based on technology similar to that involved in the German action. On April 25, 2016, the Court issued its ruling on claim construction, holding that the sole independent claim in the patent is indefinite, rendering all claims in the patent indefinite. Based on this ruling, AES filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Court’s ruling that the patent is indefinite renders the patent invalid and unenforceable. On July 20, 2016, the U.S. District Court granted the motion for summary judgment and issued an order dismissing all claims against AES with prejudice.
Lufthansa appealed the District Court's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. On October 19, 2017, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, holding that the sole independent claim of the patent is indefinite, rending all claims on the patent indefinite. Lufthansa did not file a petition for en banc rehearing or petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. Therefore, there is no longer a risk of exposure from that lawsuit.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef