Tag Archives: Nicholas Collura

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.

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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