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Ford facing patent infringement investigation

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Ford facing patent infringement investigation

A patent infringement complaint filed against Ford Motor Co. is now being investigated by the International Trade Commission. The investigation was launched this week about the complaint that could prevent Ford Motor Co.’s Mexico-built hybrid electric cars from entering the United States.

Maryland hybrid technology company, Paice, and the Abell Foundation are accusing Ford of importing certain hybrid electric vehicles and components that infringe on its own patents. The infringement is a violation of the 1930 Tariff Act.

The company is asking the ITC to prohibit Ford from importing hybrid vehicles manufactured abroad.

Paice said it worked with the automaker from 1999-2004 to provide detailed modeling and component design. However, Paice said Ford eventually declined to license Paice’s technology.

In the end, Ford licensed Toyota’s hybrid technology and Toyota took a global license for all Paice’s patented technology. Currently, Paice has an agreement with  Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and other automakers who collectively account for 70 percent of all hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S.

“We trusted Ford,” Paice CEO Robert Oswald said in a statement. “Our engineers spent years sharing technical details about our patented hybrid technology with Ford in good faith — that faith was misplaced.”

The request by Paice to issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders against electric hybrids would include models such as the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ.

In a statement, Ford called Paice’s allegations “unsubstantiated” and vowed to continue to “vigorously defend itself” from them.

The case against Ford will be assigned to one of the ITC’s administrative law judges, who will determine if Ford did indeed violate section 337 of the Tariff Act.

“The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time,” the agency said in a statement.

This new investigation is just part of the years-long dispute between the two companies. In 2014, Paice also filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Ford, but it was deemed invalid in court.

Previously, two appeals courts have upheld the original ruling, leading Paice to seek a favorable decision through a different route – the ITC.

Paice has also filed similar lawsuits against other automakers, such as Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai and Kia. According to Nathanael Adamson, Paice’s executive vice president, all cases have been settled.

“All we’re trying to do is get the auto companies to realize we own this technology,” he told Automotive News.

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