Why Change Wind Corporation Cannot Register Its Helical Turbine as a Trademark

  • A helical wind turbine design by Change Wind Corporation was denied registration as a trademark because the design was deemed functional rather than ornamental, and Change Wind was unable to prove that customers knew the source of the design.
  • It can be difficult to register product designs as trademarks once the features of the design are the subject of a patent application.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application by wind turbine manufacturer Change Wind Corporation to register its helical turbine design (shown below) as a trademark. The denial likely ends Change Wind’s quest to be granted exclusive rights to the registration of this specific design. Continue reading Why Change Wind Corporation Cannot Register Its Helical Turbine as a Trademark

Dispute Over Solar Inverter Technology Heads to Federal Court

  • A manufacturer of solar inverter components, MAGicALL, has accused its former customer Advanced Energy Industries of stealing trade secrets and violating non-disclosure agreements relating to MAGicALL’s product designs.
  • Trade secret law protects companies against the misappropriation of valuable business information that has been subject to reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy.

California’s MAGicALL, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (“AEI”) and several affiliated companies alleging breach of non-disclosure agreements and theft of trade secrets relating to MAGicALL’s solar inverter technology. In a Complaint filed in federal court in Colorado this month, MAGicALL requested that the court issue an injunction preventing AEI from continuing to sell any products containing MAGicALL’s proprietary technology, and award monetary damages in an amount yet to be determined. Continue reading Dispute Over Solar Inverter Technology Heads to Federal Court

What Patents Did Bankrupt SunEdison Sell to China’s GLC-Poly Energy?

  • As a result of bankruptcy, SunEdison will sell a portfolio of more than 100 patents and 200 patent applications to China’s GLC-Poly Energy Holdings.
  • The bulk of the portfolio is directed to SunEdison’s proprietary materials and processes for manufacturing a solar panel.
  • Transfer of ownership to GLC-Poly may complicate business for former SunEdison supplier SMP Ltd.

Last month the judge overseeing SunEdison Inc.’s bankruptcy denied an effort by South Korea-based SMP Ltd. to prevent the sale of SunEdison’s patent portfolio. SMP, which was formed as a joint venture between Samsung and SunEdison to supply key elements of SunEdison’s solar panels, had argued that Korean law prevented SunEdison from terminating a supply and license agreement. If SMP prevailed on this argument, then SunEdison would have been unable to terminate the supply and license agreement, and as a result would have been prevented from selling its patent portfolio. Continue reading What Patents Did Bankrupt SunEdison Sell to China’s GLC-Poly Energy?

Vestas Fires Back in GE Wind Turbine Lawsuit

  • Vestas has responded to GE’s patent infringement lawsuit with claims that GE engaged in inequitable conduct when obtaining a patent asserted in the lawsuit.
  • If proven, inequitable conduct renders a patent unenforceable.

Wind turbine giant Vestas has answered a patent infringement lawsuit brought by General Electric Co. with a counteroffensive, claiming GE committed inequitable conduct when obtaining one of the asserted patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Vestas additionally sought to have one of its corporate entities removed from the case altogether. (Our post explaining GE’s lawsuit is available here). Continue reading Vestas Fires Back in GE Wind Turbine Lawsuit

Varentec Dodges Gridco Requests for Inter Partes Review

  • An inter partes review is an administrative proceeding that asks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate a U.S. Patent. These reviews are commonly used by patent litigation defendants to challenge the validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of patent claims that have been asserted against them in a U.S. District Court.
  • After Varentec sued Gridco for patent infringement, Gridco requested inter partes reviews for the asserted patents. However, Gridco’s requests were denied.

Grid management solutions company Varentec, Inc., dodged a pair of requests by rival Gridco, Inc. to invalidate Varentec’s U.S. patents this week. Gridco had challenged Varentec’s patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), an administrative tribunal within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that hears claims against the validity of U.S. patents.   The PTAB denied Gridco’s requests for review of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,014,867 and 9,293,922. These related patents are owned by the Santa Clara-based Varentec and are directed to optimizing power delivery to consumers on an electrical grid with significant distributed generation. Continue reading Varentec Dodges Gridco Requests for Inter Partes Review

General Electric Expands Patent Fight Against Vestas

  • General Electric sued Vestas for infringement of a first patent in July. General Electric has now added a second patent to that lawsuit.
  • The asserted patents are directed to “Zero Voltage Ride Through” or “ZVRT” technology.

Tech giant General Electric Co. has added a new patent to its infringement claims against Vestas Wind Systems A/S, thus expanding the scope of the lawsuit it initiated in July. In an Amended Complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles earlier this month, GE now claims that Vestas infringes its U.S. Patent No. 6,921,985 which is directed to technology for connecting wind turbines to power grids. This newly-asserted patent is in addition to GE’s U.S. Patent No. 7,629,705 that was included in the original lawsuit.

Continue reading General Electric Expands Patent Fight Against Vestas

Itron Earns Review of Smart Meter Patent

  • An inter partes review is an administrative proceeding that asks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate a U.S. Patent. These reviews are commonly used by patent litigation defendants in an attempt to invalidate patent claims that have been asserted against them.
  • Itron requested inter partes review of a patent owned and asserted by Smart Meter Technologies. Itron’s request was granted.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has agreed to review the validity of a smart utility meter patent owned by Smart Meter Technologies, Inc. (“SMT”). The validity challenge was filed by Itron, Inc., a manufacturer of smart utility meters and provider of grid monitoring and control technologies. In a decision dated October 11, 2017, the Board found that Itron had brought forth sufficient evidence of the patent’s invalidity to warrant a review proceeding.

Continue reading Itron Earns Review of Smart Meter Patent

New Patent Spotlight: Flexible Underwater Turbine

  • A new patent has issued to Memorial University of Newfoundland for an underwater turbine that rotates to self-orient with water current.
  • Memorial University appears to have spun off a company to commercialize the patented invention.

New U.S. Patent No. 9,784,236 (the ‘236 Patent) issued on October 10th from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a “Flexible Water Turbine.” The patent describes an underwater turbine having a flexible support shaft that “permits the water current to orient the turbine” with the flow of water to optimize flow across the turbine blades. For example, Figure 3 from the ‘236 Patent illustrates a power generation unit (40) having a base (48) and turbine (41) coupled by a flexible tether (43). The patent explains that the flexible tether can be made from carbon fiber. Continue reading New Patent Spotlight: Flexible Underwater Turbine

Strategic Solar Energy Settles Patent Suit Against Affordable Solar Installation

  • Strategic Solar Energy and Affordable Solar Installation have settled a patent infringement lawsuit.
  • Patents may provide valuable leverage against market competitors. Parties infringing a patent may face a court injunction against further infringing activities and monetary damages.

Arizona’s Strategic Solar Energy LLC has settled its patent infringement lawsuit against New Mexico-based competitor Affordable Solar Installation, Inc. Strategic, which designs and installs a solar panel canopy branded as the PowerParasol® canopy (see https://powerparasol.com/), filed the lawsuit in December 2016 to assert infringement of its U.S. Patent Number 8,825,500 (the ‘500 Patent). In a court order dated October 13, 2017, the case was dismissed due to a settlement between the parties.

Continue reading Strategic Solar Energy Settles Patent Suit Against Affordable Solar Installation