Former Bentley CEO Suing Volkswagen For Over $100 Million In Royalties: Report

Photo: Tony Ding/AP
Photo: Tony Ding/AP

Former CEO of Bentley and Bugatti Wolfgang Schreiber is suing Volkswagen for hundreds of millions of Euros in royalties, which he thinks he deserves for having played a key role in developing Volkswagen’s ubiquitous DSG transmission, Der Spiegel reports.

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Schreiber isn’t like your typical American corporate executive who studied finance and has a fancy MBA, he—like many German auto execs— actually holds a Ph.D in mechanical engineering and used to lead transmission and drivetrain development at Volkswagen.

Photo: Volkswagen
Photo: Volkswagen
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During his time in that role, Schreiber oversaw the development and integration of the Direct-Shift Gearbox, or the DSG, VW’s dual-clutch transmission that has made its way into over four million VWs, Skodas, Audis and other Volkswagen Group products, according to Der Spiegel.

The German news site says Schreiber is actually listed as the “inventor” on multiple patents related to the DSG, and that he’s now suing VW in a Munich court for over $100 million.

Since Schreiber invented this tech while an engineer at Volkswagen, you might think the company fully entitled to his invention and exempt from having to pay royalties. But that’s not the case according to German Patent law, which Der Spiegel points out urges employers and employees to agree upon a “reasonable” payout for the inventor.

“Reasonable” is, of course, very subjective. And in this case, we’ve got a technology that Volkswagen has been throwing into almost everything with four wheels, so Schreiber is expecting some serious cash. Which is unfortunate for VW, because now’s not a great time to be asking the company for cash.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

heathcliffhuxtable
Heathcliff Huxtable

The shocker here is that someone with a PhD in engineering had the social skills to be the CEO of a major company.