Automotive & Transportation

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From the early 1900s to the present, Ropes & Gray attorneys have served as key advisors to leaders in the automotive and transportation industries.

Overview

Ropes & Gray’s attorneys have been working with the automotive and transportation industries, including the aerospace industry, since those industries began in the early 1900s. With offices on the ground in the United States, England, Japan and Korea, we are well situated to address the complex legal issues facing global clients in today’s highly competitive transportation industry.

The modern transportation industry faces new opportunities and challenges through every aspect of the manufacturing process. Technological advancement has been dominated by the drive to create cleaner, lower emission engines. Auto industry researchers are finding new solutions in fuel cell technology, liquefied petroleum, compressed natural gas, hybrid electric cars and other inventions, and the Internet and satellite technology are providing methods to develop navigation systems and other high-tech services for drivers.

Our attorneys are skilled and experienced in automotive, aerospace and other transportation-related technologies, with advanced degrees in myriad fields relevant to the products and services offered by transportation companies, including mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, physics and chemical engineering. Our ability to understand the complex nature of these industries offers us a marked advantage in serving clients.

We remain at the forefront of automotive law, advising leaders in the industry on all aspects of automotive legal issues and challenges. We represented Ford in the historic Lemelson v. Ford litigation, one of the most important cases the automotive industry has faced in the past two decades. In more recent years, we have defended global automotive manufacturers in a rising number of patent cases brought by nonpracticing entities. We are also currently handling matters for automotive clients such as Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, RouteOne LLC, Aisin AW, TS Tech Corp., Gentex Corp. and two major Japanese automakers.

In the aerospace industry, our attorneys made history on behalf of the Wright brothers and continue to represent companies in the aerospace and affiliated industries. Over the years, we have worked with companies involved in aircraft design, aircraft assembly, aircraft engines and parts, auxiliary equipment, guided missiles and space vehicles, propulsion units, and airframe assemblies. 

Experience

Noteworthy representations of automotive and transportation clients include:

  • Gentex Corp. for over 10 years, including cases where we enforced Gentex’s patents on electrochromic technology and defended against infringement claims relating to rearview signal mirrors
  • Hyundai Motor America and Kia Motor America in a patent infringement action involving fuel systems in automobiles 
  • TS Tech in a patent infringement action related to vehicle seat headrest restraint systems 
  • RouteOne, for whom we successfully obtained summary judgment verdicts on all three patents-in-suit in an action involving Internet-based automotive financing 
  • Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas in an Eastern District of Texas patent litigation involving heavy vehicle telemetry
  • Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Polar Air Cargo LLC, winning dismissal of claims in a multi-district antitrust litigation alleging market manipulation and claiming that our clients’ international pricing practices violated U.S., state and European Union antitrust laws 
  • TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers in action alleging the practice of selling motor fuel without certain adjustments violated consumer protection and unfair trade practice statutes in two dozen states
  • Kohlberg & Co in its $135 million dividend recapitalization of Trico Products Corporation, a manufacturer of windshield wiping systems, wiper blades and refills for OEM and aftermarket applications worldwide
  • Gridiron Capital in its $116 million sale of PAS Technologies, an aerospace and airplane parts manufacturer 
  • Berkshire Partners and Greenbriar Equity Group in their $820 million sale of Electro-Motive Diesel, a diesel-electric locomotive producer, to Progress Rail