Airbus Defeats Appeal by Legendary Pilot Chuck Yeager’s Estate

Skift grip

Airbus seems lucky to have rejected the appeal. Noise wall pioneer Chuck Yeager was a fearless pilot who always had what it took, but his estate failed in this trademark infringement case against the aircraft manufacturing giant.

Rashaad Jordan

Airbus on Wednesday rejected an appeal from the estate of Chuck Yeager, the US Air Force pilot who broke the sound barrier, accusing the aerospace company of using his name and likeness without permission to promote its A380 plane and its high speed racing helicopter.

Yeager had sued Airbus SE in 2019 for trademark infringement and violation of its right of publicity. He died in 2020 at the age of 97.

The famed fighter and test pilot has objected to an A380 sales video shown to employees which contained footage from his 2008 visit to Airbus facilities in Europe.

Yeager also took issue with a 2017 Airbus promotional statement on its website touting the helicopter’s efficiency, which quoted an executive as saying, “Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. We try to break down the cost barrier.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., said a lower court judge correctly dismissed the case because it lacked jurisdiction, reflecting the fact that neither the video nor the press release only targeted California, where Yeager had sued.

In a 3-0 decision, the panel said Yeager had not alleged that anyone in California had seen the video, and the large California aerospace industry “is not establishing that a website with a global audience and reach expressly aimed at the State”.

Lawyers for Yeager’s estate and Airbus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Yeager became the first person to break the speed of sound, Mach 1, flying his rocket-powered Bell X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in Southern California on October 1. 14, 1947.

He became familiar to a younger generation when actor Sam Shepard portrayed him in the 1983 film, “The Right Stuff,” based on Tom Wolfe’s book about the early years of the US space program.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This article was written by Jonathan Tempel of Reuters and has been legally licensed through Industry Dive Content market. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].