Federal Court Litigation Between GE and Vestas Likely to Remain Stayed; Parties Continue to Battle at Patent Board

  • The patent infringement lawsuit being heard in federal court in Delaware between General Electric and Vestas Wind Systems A/S appears likely to remain on hold through late 2019 or early 2020.
  • GE and Vestas remain locked in a long-running patent battle over “Zero Voltage Ride Through” or “ZVRT” technology. Each party has brought challenges against the validity of the other party’s patents to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which is expected to hear those challenges over roughly the next 12 months.

The patent infringement case between rival wind turbine manufacturers GE and Vestas appears likely to remain on hold at least through late 2019 as the parties continue to battle over the validity of the asserted patents in separate cases before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. GE and Vestas jointly filed a pair of status reports last month with the federal court in Delaware that is hearing the case, updating the court on the progress of those separate cases at the Patent Board. The court had earlier stayed the federal court litigation while awaiting decisions from the Patent Board on the validity of the GE and Vestas patents involved in the case.

In the joint status report, GE and Vestas indicated that they are in agreement “that the entire case should remain stayed.” Since a decision by the Patent Board to cancel one or more of the patents would potentially reduce the scope of a trial in federal court, the court seems inclined to let the Patent Board proceedings run their course before resuming the litigation.

The parties began their patent dispute in July 2017 when GE sued Vestas in federal court for allegedly infringing a pair of GE patents directed to technology for safely connecting wind turbines to the electrical grid. Later that year, Vestas countersued, alleging that GE infringed two Vestas patents in the same technological field. The parties then challenged the validity of each other’s patents at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and the federal court litigation was stayed pending the outcome of these challenges. GE saw both of its challenges to a Vestas patent “instituted,” or accepted for trial before the Board. Vestas succeeded in having instituted two of the three challenges it brought.

 

You can read our continuing coverage of this case here.