A patent dispute may cause major problems for Mercedes' convertible models.
Mercedes-Benz has a unique feature on its convertible models. This feature is called the "Airscarf" and is available on the SLK, SLC, SL, and SLS as well as the convertible versions of the C, E, and S-Class. The system features a vent directly under the headrest which blows hot air on the driver's and passenger's necks. A German court has just ordered Mercedes to disable this function because it believes that the feature infringes on patent rights. The technology was patented by Ludwig Schatzinger in 1996, though Mercedes does own the term Airscarf.
The lawsuit against Daimler was filled by a patent agency rather than the inventor himself. Mercedes faces a $283,000 fine if it fails to disable the system on its cars. The company must also remove the Airscarf from promotional materials and pay Schatzinger an undisclosed amount of money. The ruling only effects cars that are sold in Germany after May 9th of this year, so don't worry if you have one of these cars already. This case is rather odd because the patent rights expire after December 25th, at which time Mercedes will be able to reactivate the systems.