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Toyota loses patent appeal for technology in Prius

Posted May 12th 2008 12:01PM by Damon Lavrinc
Filed under: Hybrids/Alternative, Government/Legal, Green, Toyota



Toyota lawyers arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court today and were denied an appeal to overturn a ruling originally upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington last year. The case involved a technology patent held by a company named Paice LLC, which contended that Toyota used the same microprocessor developed by the McLean, Virginia-based company on its hybrid vehicles that inputs torque information for both the gasoline-powered engine and the electric motor. The $4.3 million dollar award against Toyota will stand, and Toyota is required to pay royalties to the firm to the tune of $25 for every Prius, Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX400h sold. Ouch. Sometimes the price of success is steep.

[Source: Detroit News]
 

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Everyone sold globally would be fair. I couldn't say what it really means however.

I don't think this was the same company but wasn't there a company that sued Toyota for the entire basic concept? They made electric drives for sail boats if I remember correctly and had a transmission very similar to the one in a HSD but instead of wheels it had a prop in the water. Anyone remember where that one went? Everyone predicted that they would get nowhere going against a large company like Toyota. Glad to see at least one company was able to hold them accountable for patent infringement.
 

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That's going to add up real fast. Is this a forever thing? Can Toyota get around it by designing an entirely new component not based on infringing technology?
Patents are typically 19 years, so it'll be a while.

And with one successful defence of the patent other nations will enforce it now, too, once the company brings Toyota to court in their jurisdictions and assuming the patent is international and not US only.
 

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That's going to add up real fast. Is this a forever thing? Can Toyota get around it by designing an entirely new component not based on infringing technology?
yeah, but it looks like they would still have to pay the $4.3M for the previous infringement. they would only be saving the $25 per car on future cars, so it probably wouldn't be worth it, unless they were planning on a redesign anyway.
 

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patents are 17 years. and you can patent not only pieces, but systems, concepts, and processes...so redisigning a single part won't circumvent a patent. like ronald said, development cost wouldn't be worth it. hybrids have always been a step gap measure...full electric cars will be out before the patent expires.
 

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patents are 17 years. and you can patent not only pieces, but systems, concepts, and processes...so redisigning a single part won't circumvent a patent. like ronald said, development cost wouldn't be worth it. hybrids have always been a step gap measure...full electric cars will be out before the patent expires.
the legal patent term is 20 years now. it used to be 17 years, but has been changed since I believe 2000. And if Toyota is only infringing on their chip they can circumvent their troubles by just changing chips.
 

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patents are 17 years. and you can patent not only pieces, but systems, concepts, and processes...so redisigning a single part won't circumvent a patent. like ronald said, development cost wouldn't be worth it. hybrids have always been a step gap measure...full electric cars will be out before the patent expires.
software patents especially are the worst of them all, but all patents are bad :)
 

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Actually this is an old Japanese trick, copy somebody else and hope you don't get sued. The Japanese copied most all of the electronics designed in this country, we were just to stupid to actually build it......VCR's and CDs were invented here in the US but made in Japan.
 

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yeah, but it looks like they would still have to pay the $4.3M for the previous infringement. they would only be saving the $25 per car on future cars, so it probably wouldn't be worth it, unless they were planning on a redesign anyway.
Not necessarily. Technology used in current hybrid cars will see life in fuel cell and full electric vehicles. Designing hybrid cars goes along way to spread out R&D on the systems, improve battery capacity in an incrimental (and likewise economical) maner, and smooth out the changeover for the public.
 

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Toyota isn't having a good year - lil old Ford is bashing Toyota, Consumer Reports nails Toyota and removes "recommended" from many of Toyota's models; Toyota has a 3.5L class action lawsuit against it; Toyota's Tundra is so poorly engineered that can't support weight on the tailgate and can't keep its 5.8L engine and transmission from eating itself up. Then you have potential Prius battery lawsuits on the horizon and now Toyota stole technology (Craftsman truck series was also a place where Toyota stole corporate secrets to advance its racing program).

Oh, what a feeling! Toyota!
 
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