Mercedes-Benz Verdict Puts Neck-Warming Technology on Ice

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Sales of scarves are poised to jump in Germany after a court ruled Mercedes-Benz can’t blow on its customer’s exposed necks.

A verdict from that country’s Federal Court of Justice just dug a temporary grave for the automaker’s “Airscarf” system, Carscoops reports, citing the German publication Automobilwoche.

The outcome of the automaker’s legal dispute with the company that holds the original 1996 patent means a “stop sale” order for models equipped with the warm air-blowing headrest.

First used in 1998, Airscarf adds luxury and maybe even a bit of romance to all drop-top Benz models, allowing drivers to enjoy open-air motoring even after the leaves start to turn.

A spokesperson for the company told Carscoops, “We are surprised by the verdict.”

Luckily for Mercedes-Benz, inventor Ludwig Schatzinger’s patent runs out on Christmas of this year, meaning the automaker can go back to legally blowing air on people the next day.

In the meantime, the automaker is being fined a quarter million euros ($283,137) and is ordered to remove any mention of Airscarf from advertising and promotional materials. It also has to compensate Schatzinger an undisclosed amount for every vehicle sold with the technology.

The verdict doesn’t affect models already sold, and the stop sale on new vehicles applies only in Germany.

Once Dec. 25 rolls around, happy days and warm necks return to Stuttgart.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz USA]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on May 16, 2016

    The C-Class coupe looks pretty sharp, and gets rid of the squatty dog design on the sedan. (I also pic up hints of Porsche there in cabriolet format.) Mimics the giant S-Coupe pretty well.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 16, 2016

    The model pictured looks like an antique bathtub to me. Try to suck less next time Daimler.

  • Qfrog Qfrog on May 16, 2016

    I think other manufacturers use a similar hot air down your neck system, no? Does this affect anybody other than MB?

    • PeriSoft PeriSoft on May 16, 2016

      You patent a *method* for doing something, not the idea of doing it in the first place, so it may or may not affect other people accomplishing the same ends. Depending on how the patent is written it may cover something really specific (like, say, a way to do it 5db quieter than anyone else) rather than the idea of neck-warming.

  • Johnster Johnster on May 17, 2016

    This sounds like that Greg Kinnear movie, "Flash of Genius," about that guy who invented intermittent windshield wipers, sued Ford and won. Then again, maybe it's completely different.