Jury Finds Mitsubishi Owes GE $170 Million for Wind Patent Infringement

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In a previous post, I discussed a Texas federal court decision denying Mitsubishi’s motion for summary judgment in which it argued it did not infringe U.S. Patent No. 7,629,705 (’705 Patent) and that the ’705 Patent is invalid.

The ’705 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for operating electrical machines” and directed to methods of facilitating zero voltage ride through so the turbine can remain online during voltage dips down to zero volts.

Now a Texas jury has found that Mitsubishi infringed the ’705 Patent and has awarded GE about $170 million in damages (GE_Verdict_Form).

The jury rejected several of Mitsubishi’s proposed invalidity grounds and found GE had proven lost sales of $166,750,000 due to Mitsubishi’s infringement and that it was entitled to $3,445,000 in a reasonable royalty.

A GE spokesman, Chet Lasell, said “GE firmly believes that protecting our intellectual property rights is the foundation for innovation, investing in high-technology industries and creating high-value jobs. This is certainly true in the wind industry, which holds the hope and the potential for a cleaner energy future.”

Not surprisingly, Mitsubishi took the opposite view. Its spokeswoman, Sonia Williams, said the case should be viewed “within the larger context: as part of a GE litigation strategy that would stifle competition and innovation in wind turbine technology.” (see previous posts here and here about Mitsubishi’s antitrust allegations).

Mitsubishi’s statement also noted that the trial will now proceed to a second phase relating to Mitsubishi’s allegations that GE engaged in inequitable conduct in procuring the ’705 Patent.

But this is the second recent victory for GE against Mitsubishi. The Federal Circuit recently reversed a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling of no domestic industry with respect to GE’s U.S. Patent No. 6,921,985, entitled “Low voltage ride through for wind turbine generators,” giving GE another shot at Mitsubishi in the ITC.

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.

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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.