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Jaguar’s tech infringement suit against Bentley goes forward

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 21, 2019

Jaguar’s tech infringement suit against Bentley goes forward

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//July 21, 2019

Jaguar’s patent for a terrain response technology that electronically controlled various vehicle subsystems to optimize a vehicle’s performance on different types of terrain was valid because the patent claims were not directed at an abstract concept and, if even if they were, the covered technology was sufficiently inventive to transform the abstract concept into a patent-eligible idea. Therefore, its infringement claim against Bentley can go forward.


Jaguar Land Rover Limited manufactures four-wheel drive sports utility vehicles, under the Jaguar, Land Rover and Range Rover brands that use a patented terrain response technology. Bentley Motors Limited, in conjunction with its subsidiary Bentley Motors Inc., designs, develops, manufactures and sells luxury motor vehicles.

On May 8, 2018, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent No. RE46,828, a reissue of U.S. Patent No. 7,349,776, for Jaguar’s terrain response technology. The covered technology electronically controls various vehicle subsystems, including the engine, the transmission, the brakes, the traction control, the suspension and the steering, to operate in a manner that is suitable for driving on a particular off-road surface. The driver of the vehicle uses an input panel to select from several off-road driving surfaces including grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, sand and rocks.  The terrain response controller then instructs each of the subsystems to operate in a manner or mode that is suitable for driving on the selected surface.

In 2016, Bentley launched its first SUV, the Bentayga, which is a direct competitor to Jaguar’s Range Rover model. The Bentayga has a drive dynamics system, which can be equipped with an all-terrain specification that provides four off-road settings: snow, ice & wet grass, dirt & gravel, mud & trail and sand. The off-road settings in the all-terrain specification adjust various vehicle subsystems, including the electronic stability-control system, traction-control system, engine, gearbox and suspension settings, to improve performance on different off-road driving surfaces.

On June 14, 2018, Jaguar initiated this action against Bentley. The amended complaint specifically alleges that Bentley infringed upon the ‘828 patent by knowingly copying Jaguar’s terrain response system. In addition, Jaguar claims that Bentley had been made aware of the ‘776 patent by at least Feb. 5, 2016, when Jaguar sent Bentley a letter stating that the Bentayga’s driver assistance system infringed upon that patent. Two years later, Jaguar representatives met with Bentley representatives and informed them that they expected the ‘828 patent to be granted shortly. On May 24, 2018, Jaguar sent a letter to Bentley informing the company that the ‘828 patent had been issued on May 8, 2018, and reiterating that the Bentayga infringes upon Jaguar’s patents.

Bentley now moves to dismiss Jaguar’s amended complaint, alleging that Jaguar’s patents are invalid for failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.


Claims directed towards merely performing a function are generally considered to fall within the category of abstract ideas that are patent-ineligible. Claims directed to a particular way of performing that function, on the other hand, are typically not directed to an abstract idea and are not considered patent-ineligible.

The claims of the ‘828 patent are directed to manipulating multiple vehicle subsystems to allow a vehicle to better adapt to driving on various types of on-road and off-road surfaces. On their face, these claims appear to be directed to improvements in functionality, rather than performance of a function. In addition, the technology covered by the patent is not a mere computerization of a mental process. Instead, humans may continue to engage in that mental process and the vehicle itself is adapted to optimize and make driving on different surfaces more efficient.

The most analogous technology to that embodied by the ‘828 patent is cruise control technology, and courts have repeatedly found that such systems are patentable and not directed at an abstract idea. Contrary to Bentley’s contentions, the claims of the ‘828 patent do more than just perform a function—they provide a particular way of performing that function. Like cruise control technology, which physically changes a vehicle to provide a means of performing a particular function, the technology embodied in the ‘828 patent also changes a vehicle to provide a means of performing a particular function.

Under these circumstances, the court finds that the claims are not improperly directed toward a patent-ineligible abstract concept. Moreover, even if the claims were directed to an abstract concept, Jaguar has alleged sufficient facts to transform such an abstract idea into a patent-eligible concept by demonstrating the inventiveness of the technology in improving efficiency.

Motion to dismiss denied.

Jaguar Land Rover Limited v. Bentley Motors Limited, Case No. 2:18-cv-320, June 26, 2019. EDVA at Norfolk (Davis). VLW 019-3-318. 31 pp.

VLW 019-3-318

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