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Car and Driver: Mercedes-Benz Stripped of Its Airscarf After Ruling of Patent Infringement

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It blows warm air onto your upper body when the top is open, extending the top-down driving season in the SL and SLK convertible models and the E-class cabriolet. The upper-range models now have it standard, and it's $3390 packaged with heated seats and keyless ignition on the SLK300. So it's becoming one of those "normal" things, but it still feels soooooo self-indulgent.

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Things are about to get chillier for drivers of Mercedes-Benz convertibles. The company’s Airscarf system—vents at the base of the front-seat headrests that blow warm air onto passengers necks—has been ruled a patent violation, and as a result, the company is being ordered to disable the system in its new cars.

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Airscarf was introduced on the 2004 SLK roadster, and has since spread to the SL-class, the new SLC-class, and the E-, S-, and C-class convertibles. As reported by Leftlane News, the ruling by a German court means that new Mercedes convertibles sold after May 9 must have the system disabled, although that dictate applies only to sales in Germany. The company also must cease advertising the feature, and pay royalties to the patent holder, one Ludwig Schatzinger.

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Current owners won’t have to give up that puff of warm air on the backs of their necks because Mercedes convertibles that have already been sold will not be required to have the system disabled. Interestingly, the report also states that Mr. Schatzinger’s patent expires on December 25 of this year, so Mercedes may get its Airscarf system back as a Christmas present.

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