Design of Solar-Powered Lightbulbs at Issue in New Litigation

  • A pair of manufacturers are engaged in litigation over the specific design of a solar lightbulb.
  • Design patents are used to protect the appearance of a product rather than the product’s functionality.

The Gerson Companies, a home décor products importer based in Olathe, Kansas, has sued Quanxin Lighting and Electrical (USA) Inc. in federal court in Delaware last month for infringement of a design patent. The patent is directed to the design of a solar-powered lightbulb. In the lawsuit, Gerson has requested monetary damages and an injunction preventing Quanxin USA’s continued sale of the allegedly infringing products. Continue reading Design of Solar-Powered Lightbulbs at Issue in New Litigation

Federal Circuit Upholds Validity of Philips Patent on Dimmable LEDs

  • The Patent Trial and Appeal Board recently decided that a Philips patent on dimmable LED technology is valid despite a challenge from a competitor. That decision was later affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
  • The patent at issue has been well-litigated, with Philips asserting the patent against numerous competitors in federal courts and at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

A patent directed to dimmable LED technology was upheld as valid in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The patent is owned by Philips Lighting North America Corporation, a subsidiary of Dutch consumer product giant Koninklijke Philips N.V. The Federal Circuit’s decision marks the unsuccessful conclusion of a challenge to the patent’s validity brought by a competitor of Philips Lighting called Wangs Alliance Corporation, which does business under the name WAC Lighting. Continue reading Federal Circuit Upholds Validity of Philips Patent on Dimmable LEDs

The Evolving Role of Microgrids

The latest hurricane season, which left millions without power for substantial periods of time, was yet another reminder of the urgent need to make America’s electrical grid more resilient. The increasing frequency and intensity of such storms is exposing the vulnerabilities of the aging electrical grid, i.e., the network of transmission and distribution lines often spanning long distances between power generation sources and population centers. These lines can be taken out of service by falling trees, flying debris, or extreme heat or cold, while their substations can be destroyed by flooding, leaving tens of thousands of customers without power at a time.

Microgrids, which provide more localized power generation and distribution, can play a vital role in providing resilience by islanding themselves from the rest of the grid during such outages while continuing to provide power to critical facilities. In addition to providing resiliency, microgrids have other potential benefits, such as reducing peak demands for the larger grid through optimization of resources, reducing carbon emissions through increased energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy resources, and acting as market participants in the organized wholesale electricity markets. These evolving roles for microgrids raise legal questions for state and federal regulatory authorities, which are racing to catch up with this technology to provide appropriate guidance and regulation.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorney Patrick L. Morand, please visit the Natural Resources & Environment website.

GE Opens a Second Front in Patent Fight with Vestas

  • GE filed petitions on Friday to challenge the validity of a pair of Vestas patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Those patents were asserted by Vestas against GE in related patent litigation in federal court.
  • GE and Vestas are now likely to continue their patent fight in two forums: the federal court hearing patent infringement claims between the parties and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board hearing GE’s validity challenges to the Vestas patents.

General Electric Co. has challenged a pair of patents owned by Vestas Wind Systems A/S at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. In petitions for inter partes review filed last Friday, GE alleges that the Vestas patents are invalid because they merely claim as inventions what was already known in the field of wind turbine technology. With the parties already engaged in litigation in U.S federal courts, GE’s move opens a second front in the ongoing patent fight with Vestas.

GE initially sued Vestas in July 2017, alleging that Vestas infringes GE’s U.S Patent No. 6,921,985. In November, GE expanded the lawsuit by adding another patent – GE’s U.S. Patent No. 7,629,705 – that GE asserted Vestas also infringes. Both of GE’s asserted patents are directed to technology for connecting wind turbines to power grids.
Continue reading GE Opens a Second Front in Patent Fight with Vestas

SemaConnect Wins Dismissal of ChargePoint’s Patent Lawsuit

  • A federal court dismissed claims of patent infringement brought by ChargePoint, Inc. against a rival in the EV charging station market, SemaConnect, Inc. The court found ChargePoint’s asserted patents to claim inventions that are ineligible for patent protection and thus unenforceable against SemaConnect.
  • ChargePoint has appealed the decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which will hear arguments between the parties.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging station provider SemaConnect Inc. won dismissal of a patent infringement lawsuit brought in federal court in Maryland. The lawsuit, brought by ChargePoint Inc., was thrown out after the court found that all four of ChargePoint’s asserted patents claim inventions that are ineligible for patent protection. Specifically, the court found that the patents claim nothing more than an “abstract idea” as their invention.

SemaConnect CEO Mahi Reddy called the result a “vindication of our effort to support open standards and interoperability of charging networks and stations.” He added that “this outcome is also a big win for the charging industry, the electric vehicle industry, and utilities.” Continue reading SemaConnect Wins Dismissal of ChargePoint’s Patent Lawsuit

Alstom Grid Appeals, Reverses Dominion Energy’s Patent Win

  • Alstom Grid successfully reversed a jury verdict finding that Alstom infringed a Dominion Energy patent directed to smart grid management technology.
  • The appeal was heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which is the federal appeals court that takes all appeals of U.S. patent cases.

Alstom Grid LLC won an appeal at the Federal Circuit after last year suffering a patent trial loss to Dominion Energy, Inc. over smart grid management technology. In overturning the earlier jury verdict, the Federal Circuit stated that “no reasonable jury” could have found Alstom to infringe Dominion’s patent. Continue reading Alstom Grid Appeals, Reverses Dominion Energy’s Patent Win

TESCO Moves Confidentiality Case to Pennsylvania

  • To hear a lawsuit between parties, a court must have personal jurisdiction over a defendant. Personal jurisdiction requires “minimum contacts” between a defendant and a state such that the defendant “should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.”
  • Electric meter company TESCO used a lack of minimum contacts with the state of Tennessee to have litigation with plaintiff Technology for Energy Corporation moved to a more convenient court in Pennsylvania.

One of the first questions a defendant often asks when they’ve been sued is this: can I get the case moved to a more favorable court? Each court may have different administrative rules, different law to be applied in the case, and judges with different backgrounds. In these differences, litigants and their counsel often seek to find an advantage by trying to move cases among the various courts. Continue reading TESCO Moves Confidentiality Case to Pennsylvania

Three Lessons from the Conviction of Sinovel Wind Group for Trade Secret Theft

Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. was convicted last month of stealing software from AMSC Inc., a U.S.-based company formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. The theft nearly destroyed the American company, which lost substantial service contracts after the theft and began to shed market capitalization, jobs, and facilities as a result. With the conviction, Sinovel now awaits sentencing, scheduled for June 2018, which could include more than $1 billion in fines and a multi-year probationary period. Continue reading Three Lessons from the Conviction of Sinovel Wind Group for Trade Secret Theft

EV Charging Company to Rival: Your Patents Aren’t Valid

  • In a battle over EV charging station technology, a patent defendant has argued that the plaintiff’s technology is ineligible for patent protection and that the entire case should be dismissed from federal court.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging station provider SemaConnect, Inc., has requested that a patent lawsuit be dismissed because the asserted patents are invalid. The patents are owned by rival ChargePoint, Inc., an EV charging company that appears to have brought the lawsuit against SemaConnect after being shut out of a major installation contract. The contract was offered by Electrify America, the VW subsidiary that has pledged to spend $2 billion on EV infrastructure. You can find our earlier post on this case here. Continue reading EV Charging Company to Rival: Your Patents Aren’t Valid

Solar Panel Trade Case Concludes with Tariff Announcement

This post was co-authored by Brad Thompson and Justus Getty.

  • The Suniva / SolarWorld trade case concluded this week with the announcement of import relief to domestic solar panel manufacturers in the form of tariffs to be applied to solar panel imports.
  • The decision, which was heavily contested by stakeholders in the solar industry, was somewhat of a mixed bag for all sides: although some tariffs were imposed, the tariffs did not go as far as Suniva and SolarWorld had requested.

Continue reading Solar Panel Trade Case Concludes with Tariff Announcement