GE and Vestas Settle Patent Dispute

  • GE and Vestas announced yesterday that they have reached a settlement in their long-running patent battle over “Zero Voltage Ride Through” or “ZVRT” technology.
  • The parties are taking actions to dismiss all aspects of the dispute, including a patent infringement lawsuit being heard in federal court and multiple patent validity challenges at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

GE and Vestas have announced “an amicable settlement of all disputes related to multiple patent infringement claims in the U.S.,” bringing to an end their long-running patent battle over “Zero Voltage Ride Through” or “ZVRT” technology. Although details remain confidential, the parties announced that the settlement agreement includes:

  1. A full release of liability for any past infringement of the patents-in-suit;
  2. A cross-license of the patents-in-suit and their family members; and
  3. A confidential payment from Vestas to GE.

A joint press release from the parties also notes that the cross-license “applies globally to the parties’ and their affiliates’ respective onshore and offshore wind businesses.”

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 and Vestas are now taking steps to discontinue the sprawling case. In federal court, the parties have filed a joint voluntary dismissal of all claims and counter-claims at issue in the litigation. The parties have also filed joint requests to terminate the five total challenges to patent validity that were in progress before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

The settlement agreement does not appear likely to disrupt the status quo in the wind turbine industry in the United States, where GE and Vestas together reportedly control more than 80% of the wind turbine market. GE and Vestas will each retain their respective patents directed to ZVRT technology and will have licenses to patented technology owned by the other party in the dispute.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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