Cleantech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

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Several green patent lawsuits have been filed in the last two weeks in the areas of biofuels, energy storage, smart grid, LEDs and environmental remediation.

Biofuels

Genifuel Corporation et al. v. Oyler

This is an inventorship dispute over numerous patent applications relating to production of fuel and fertilizers from algae, including two that have issued as U.S. Patents Nos. 7,905,930 and 7,977,076.

In the complaint (Genifuel-Complaint), filed September 15, 2011 in the District of Utah, the Salt Lake City biomass-to-fuels company Genifuel requests an order declaring the defendant is not an inventor of the disputed IP.

Energy Storage – Batteries and Fuel Cells

Lester Electrical Inc. v. Diversified Power Int’l

The complaint (LesterElectrical-Complaint) was filed September 26, 2011 in the District of Nebraska.

Lester Electrical, a Nebraska industrial battery charger company, accuses Diversified Power of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,114,833 (’833 Patent). The ’833 Patent is entitled “Monitoring and controlling system for battery and battery charger” and is directed to battery charging and control technology for battery-operated vehicles.

Limnia, Inc. v. Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. et al.

By this complaint (Limnia-Complaint), filed September 13, 2011 in the Central District of California, San Francisco-based hydrogen fuel cell maker Limnia asserts four patents (and, oddly, one pending patent application) against Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), United Technologies and AeroVironment.

The patents are U.S. Patents Nos. 7,011,768, entitled “Methods for hydrogen storage using doped alanate compositions,” 7,169,489, entitled “Hydrogen storage, distribution, and recovery system,” 7,279,222, entitled “Solid state hydrogen storage systems,” and 7,399,325, entitled “Method and apparatus for a hydrogen fuel cassette distribution and recovery system.”

The accused products are ECD’s metal hydride storage containers and solid hydrogen storage canisters, United Technologies’ alanate hydrogen storage systems, metal hydride systems and polymer-dispersed metal hydride systems, and a host of AeroVironment’s energy systems, electric vehicle charging solutions, and passenger and fleet electric vehicle charging systems.

LEDs

Dow Corning Compound Semiconductor Solutions, LLC v. Cree, Inc.

In this declaratory judgment action (Dow-Cree_Complaint), filed September 27, 2011 in the Eastern District of Michigan, DCCSS requests judicial declarations of non-infringement and invalidity of three Cree patents relating to silicon carbide wafers used as precursors for semiconductors.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent No. 7,294,324, entitled “Low basal plane dislocation bulk grown SiC wafers,” U.S. Patent No. 7,314,520, entitled “Low 1c screw dislocation 3 inch silicon carbide wafer,” and U.S. Patent No. 7,314,521, entitled “Low micropipe 100 mm silicon carbide wafer.” The patents are directed to silicon carbide wafers having certain diameters and dislocation densities and methods of making such wafers.

Smart Grid

TransData, Inc. v. Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co.

This complaint (TransData-Oklahoma_Complaint), filed September 16, 2011 in the Western District of Oklahoma, is the latest in a flurry of lawsuits by Texas smart meter company TransData against a number of utilities in the southeastern United States. Details on the other TransData suits can be found in a previous post.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patents Nos. 6,181,294 (’294 Patent), 6,462,713 (’713 Patent) and 6,903,699 (’699 Patent), which relate to antenna and wireless communication devices for use with electric meters. The ’294, ’713 and ’699 Patents are related patents which trace back to an original 1998 filing date. They describe early solutions for wireless transmission of electrical consumption data.

Environmental Remediation

Atlantis Holding Company, LLC et al. v. Pine Environmental Services, Inc.

Atlantis, Summit Holding Company and Aquarius Holdings Company (d/b/a Proactive Environmental Products) sued environmental monitoring solutions provider Pine Environmental Services (PES) on September 28, 2011 in the District of Maryland (Atlantis-Complaint).

Proactive makes replaceable stainless steel motors for groundwater sampling equipment, and the plaintiffs accuse PES of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,584,785, entitled “Groundwater sampling device” (’785 Patent). The ’785 Patent is directed to a replaceable internal electric motor for a groundwater sampling device, the motor including means to align it with an alignment pin of the groundwater sampling device.

The complaint also includes allegations of trademark infringement and counterfeiting based on U.S. trademark registrations for several marks, including PROACTIVE, PROACTIVE ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS, MONSOON, TYPHOON and HURRICANE for motors and pumps.

Recycling & Waste Management

R360 Environmental Solutions, Inc. v. Scott Environmental Services, Inc.

From the Sow’s Ear to Silk Purse Department comes this suit involving U.S. Patent No. 8,007,581 (’851 Patent), entitled “Incorporation of drilling cuttings into stable load-bearing structures” and directed to processes for recycling drill cuttings from oil drilling equipment and converting them into high-load-bearing civil engineering structures such as vehicle roads and drilling pads.

By its complaint (R360-Complaint), filed September 16, 2011 in the Southern District of Texas, R360 requests a decaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of the ’581 Patent.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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