A Closer Look at Tesla’s Open-Source Patent Pledge

In 2014, Elon Musk announced that he was “open-sourcing” Tesla’s patents.  He argued that doing so would allow the electric vehicle market to grow more rapidly.  While Musk’s original announcement was short on details, the company has since provided additional information regarding the use of Tesla’s patents in its Patent Pledge.  Echoing language from Musk’s announcement, the Patent Pledge states that Tesla “will not initiate a lawsuit against any party for infringing a Tesla Patent through activity relating to electric vehicles or related equipment for so long as such party is acting in good faith.”

The Patent Pledge provides a potential path for companies to use the technology covered by Tesla’s patent portfolio.  Tesla is the assignee of over 350 U.S. utility and design patents covering a broad range of technology, from thermal management systems to door handles.  However, companies considering whether to use Tesla’s patented technology should carefully review several key restrictions found in the Pledge.

Continue reading A Closer Look at Tesla’s Open-Source Patent Pledge

Top Posts from Our First Year of the Duane Morris Green IP Blog

This week marks the one-year anniversary of our first post to the Duane Morris Green IP Blog, so we thought we’d mark the occasion with a look back at our top posts of the first year. This list was developed subjectively from a loose combination of reader feedback, page traffic, and republication. Continue reading Top Posts from Our First Year of the Duane Morris Green IP Blog

Patent Trial and Appeal Board Strikes Down Claims of Smart Meter Patent

  • The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has found parts of a smart power meter patent owned by Smart Meter Technologies (“SMT”) to be unpatentable.
  • A lawsuit over potential infringement of the patent by Duke Energy remains on hold pending an appeal of the Board’s decision.

In March 2016, Smart Meter Technologies, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court in Delaware alleging that Duke Energy infringed SMT’s U.S. Patent Number 7,058,524 by installing and operating automated power distribution equipment in residential installations.  The lawsuit named the smart meters used by Duke as OpenWay® smart meters sold by Itron, Inc.  Itron, which may have had an obligation to indemnify Duke, then petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to institute an inter partes review (“IPR”) of the ‘524 Patent, a procedure through which parties can request that the USPTO review an issued patent to challenge that the claims of the patent are not valid. Continue reading Patent Trial and Appeal Board Strikes Down Claims of Smart Meter Patent

Transatomic Power to Open Source IP Regarding Advanced Molten Salt Reactors

  • Advanced nuclear reactor design firm Transatomic Power announced that it will suspend operations and open-source its intellectual property.
  • Transatomic’s intellectual property portfolio includes three patent applications and, presumably, reactor designs and specifications that have been held until now as trade secrets.

Transatomic Power, a company that once aimed to repurpose spent nuclear fuel as an energy source for advanced reactors, announced recently that it will suspend operations and open source its intellectual property. Transatomic cited its inability to “scale up the company rapidly enough to build our reactor in a reasonable timeframe” as the reason for closing shop. Continue reading Transatomic Power to Open Source IP Regarding Advanced Molten Salt Reactors

Vestas Files New Challenge Against GE Wind Turbine Patent

  • After filing a first challenge against GE’s U.S. Patent No. 6,921, 985 in May, Vestas has filed a second challenge in August to expand its attack on that patent. GE had previously asserted the ’985 Patent against Vestas in a federal patent infringement lawsuit.

Last month Vestas Wind added yet another proceeding to its year-long patent battle against General Electric Company, filing a new challenge against GE’s U.S. Patent No. 6,921,985 at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Vestas had already filed one challenge against the ’985 Patent in May, and appears to have filed a second challenge to attack additional claims of the ’985 Patent. Continue reading Vestas Files New Challenge Against GE Wind Turbine Patent

Solar Panel Mounting Patents Found Invalid, Potentially Saving Defendants EcoFasten and SunModo

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found three patents directed to solar panel mounting technology to have defective priority claims. As a result, the allegedly-infringing products sold by EcoFasten and SunModo pre-date the patents, rendering the patents invalid.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed the invalidity of three patents directed to solar panel mounting technology. The patents are owned by solar installer D Three Enterprises LLC, and were asserted in federal court against SunModo Corporation and Rillito River Solar LLC, which does business under the name EcoFasten Solar. Now that the three patents have been affirmed as invalid, D Three’s lawsuit against SunModo and EcoFasten will potentially be dismissed. Continue reading Solar Panel Mounting Patents Found Invalid, Potentially Saving Defendants EcoFasten and SunModo

GE, Vestas Battling in a Technological Field They Dominate

  • GE and Vestas are now one year into patent litigation that has the potential to impact the U.S. wind turbine market. The parties reportedly control more than 80% of the market between them.
  • The patents at issue claim inventions in the field of controlling wind turbine generators. GE and Vestas are the preeminent patent owners in this field.

This week marks one year since GE filed a patent lawsuit against its main rival in the U.S. wind turbine industry, the Danish company Vestas A/S. In the past year, GE has modified its patent infringement allegations; Vestas has denied infringement, alleged inequitable conduct by GE when obtaining the patents, and counter-sued GE for infringing Vestas’ patents; and both parties have filed challenges to each other’s asserted patents with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (see here and here). The litigation in federal court was also recently put on hold to await the outcome of those challenges at the PTAB. Continue reading GE, Vestas Battling in a Technological Field They Dominate

EVelozcity Loses Bid to Disqualify Part of Faraday’s Legal Team

  • While defending against allegations of trade secret misappropriation, EVelozcity attempted to disqualify part of Faraday’s legal team for a conflict of interest. That attempt fell short when the court ruled that EVelozcity had not shared confidential information with the allegedly-conflicted attorneys.

As discussed in our previous post, the artificial intelligence electric vehicle developer Faraday&Future, Inc. filed a lawsuit in January against rival startup EVelozcity, Inc. for misappropriation of trade secrets. Several senior members of the EVelozcity team were formerly employed by Faraday, and Faraday accused those former employees of stealing trade secrets on their way out the door. EVelozcity responded to these accusations with two motions to the court. Continue reading EVelozcity Loses Bid to Disqualify Part of Faraday’s Legal Team

Breaking Down the Faraday Future Trade Secret Case

  • The artificial intelligence electric vehicle developer Faraday&Future has sued rival EVelozcity for misappropriation of trade secrets.
  • EVelozcity was formed by the former CFO of Faraday and allegedly recruited several Faraday employees to defect and bring substantial amounts of confidential Faraday data with them.

In January, the artificial intelligence electric vehicle developer Faraday&Future, Inc. filed a lawsuit against rival startup EVelozcity, Inc. for misappropriation of trade secrets. Faraday has reportedly invested more than $1 billion to develop a vehicle called FF 91, which is scheduled to begin production late this year. Continue reading Breaking Down the Faraday Future Trade Secret Case

Wind Turbine Litigation: Judge Orders Stay of GE v. Vestas

  • The patent litigation between GE and Vestas was put on hold pending the outcome of several challenges to the disputed patents brought at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.
  • The patents at issue include both GE and Vestas patents directed to wind turbine technology, and specifically to ensuring safe and reliable connections between wind turbines and the power grid.
  • Based on scheduling at the PTAB, the patent litigation will likely be suspended for a minimum of six months and a maximum of eighteen months.

The U.S. District Court judge hearing a dispute over wind turbine patents between GE and Vestas put the case on hold last week, electing to await developments in a series of challenges brought against the patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In an order signed June 7, 2018, Judge Andre Birotte Jr. indicated that the litigation is stayed (suspended) until the PTAB has issued Institution Decisions in each of the validity challenges filed by GE and Vestas (for a recap of those challenges, see our earlier posts regarding GE’s challenges against Vestas and Vestas’s challenges against GE). Continue reading Wind Turbine Litigation: Judge Orders Stay of GE v. Vestas