Takata’s patent history for its airbags reveals that that the supplier’s researchers, for dozens of years, has been aware of the instability of the explosive propellant -- ammonium nitrate – and have been looking for ways to make them more stable and the safety devices more durable, according to Bloomberg News.
The news agency reviewed the patents studied by Jason Turchin, a lawyer involved in a Takata airbag litigation, as well as other documents. Turchin cites two patents, from 1985 and from 1989, that address the possibility that airbag housings can degrade when exposed to high temperatures and can be at risk of rupturing or breaking apart.
According to a patent search by Innography Inc., at least seven applications from Takata cite those two patents. The patents were aimed at improve the ammonium nitrate propellants that help inflate the airbags and strengthen their metal housing.
Takata’s applications could help lawyers show that the Japanese supplier could have acted soon enough to avoid the defects. “I look at this as a road map,” Turchin told Bloomberg. He admitted that plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t have answers to the what, who, why, when and how questions surrounding the faulty airbags.
®He added that lawyers need to know what questions to ask and what documents to request. Takata recently disclosed that it still has no full understanding of the root cause of the defects. It has admitted that it has been aware since 2005 of a defect on airbags produced as early as 2000.