One of the early developers of hybrid vehicle technologies, Paice, has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission against Volkswagen Group for patent infringement.
The filed complaint argues that VW, Audi, and Porsche (note that Audi and Porsche are part of Volkswagen Group) participated in hybrid technology patent infringement — and requests that the US International Trade Commission (ITC) issue an exclusion order to prohibit the companies from importing certain hybrid vehicles. These hybrid vehicles would include: the Audi A3 e-tron Hybrid, the Audi Q5 Hybrid, the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid.
Following legal action against Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation, Paice recently (December 2015) came to a licensing agreement with those companies — ending the legal process on those counts. Paice has previously reached agreement with Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai/Kia as well.
Paice provides more info on the Volkswagen Group side of things:
From 2001 to 2004, Paice engineers spent over 350 days in Germany sharing its patented hybrid technology with Volkswagen. Paice performed extensive modeling and provided VW all of Paice’s computer modeling and control algorithms. But after learning everything it needed from Paice, VW abruptly ended the collaboration and never licensed Paice’s technology.
VW ultimately chose to focus on developing its “clean diesel” vehicles instead of investing adequately in hybrids. However, these diesel vehicles were unable to meet U.S. emissions regulations, and VW installed defeat devices to mask the illegal levels of harmful emissions. In the end, VW had to cheat in its efforts to achieve the same results that Paice’s technology delivered.
Now that the VW Group has been forced to stop selling its current diesel vehicle models in the U.S., it has committed to focusing a large part of its future development on hybrid vehicles for the VW, Audi and Porsche brands. Given its refusal to license Paice’s technology, the company believes VW, Audi & Porsche must be excluded from importing hybrid vehicles into the U.S.
Paice is currently involved in a patent infringement lawsuit against Ford, which signed a limited licensing agreement in 2010 that applied only to Paice’s first patent. When the companies were unable to reach a licensing agreement on subsequent patents, Paice was forced to pursue legal action in 2014. That lawsuit has been stayed pending the resolution of inter partes review proceedings before the U.S. Patent Office.
A public statement on the matter was recently issued by the Volkswagen Group, which noted: “We do not comment on ongoing litigation matters.”
To provide some further background here, Paice was founded back in 1992 by Dr Alex Severinsky, and currently holds 29 US + foreign patents pertains to hybrid vehicle technologies.