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Ex-Bugatti CEO seeks millions in row over gearbox patents

2016-09-07 13:52

FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST VW: Wolfgang Schreiber seen here in a 2013 file photograph is suing the Volkswagen Group over patents for its Direct Shift Gearbox. Image: Stan Honda / AFP

Frankfurt - A former top Volkswagen manager and engineer has filed a multi-million-euro lawsuit against the car giant in a dispute over patents, German media reported Friday (September 2).

Wolfgang Schreiber, the one-time head of VW subsidiaries Bugatti and Bentley, brought the case before the state court in Munich and is asking for €10-million, DPA news agency said, citing a court spokeswoman.

Largest-ever patent suit

Der Spiegel magazine had earlier reported that Schreiber's claim was for "several hundred million euros", describing it as the country's largest-ever patent suit by an employee.

He was named as the inventor on several patents related to double-clutch transmissions after being appointed head of gearbox development for Volkswagen in 1996.

The former engineer believes he has not been adequately compensated for his brainchild, as double-clutch gearboxes have been included in more than four million vehicles built by the group, Spiegel reported.

German law calls for appropriate compensation

When contacted by AFP, Volkswagen confirmed that Schreiber had taken legal action against the company, without providing details.

The statement said: "Previous conversations with him did not lead to an agreement.

"Because of the ongoing proceedings we can't provide any further information. However, we are maintaining our legal position."

German law calls for employee inventors to be compensated "appropriately" for their creations, above and beyond their salary.

But employees and firms have repeatedly clashed over the definition of "appropriate" compensation.

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