Patent Infringement Could Halt Toyota Hybrid Imports

Where is the mainstream media when you need them? Probably off chasing another Micheal Jackson’s baby’s daddy. But they could do a lot more use into investigating the court case of Paice LLC vs. Toyota. In the lawsuit filed by Paice against Toyota, Paice claims that several of Toyota’s popular hybrid models infringe on patents held by Paice. Having won a similar case back in 2005, Paice is now seeking an exclusion that would keep Toyota hybrid imports from entering the U.S.

The lawsuit claims that the Prius, Camry, Lexus HS250h sedan and 450h SUV all use technology patented by Paice. Back in 2005, Paice was awarded an “ongoing royalty” of $25 per offending hybrid vehicle sold after they initially won their suit in addition to a settlement of $4.3 million. That reward was remanded however, and now Paice seems content to just altogether block the import of the Prius and other Toyota hybrid vehicles.

In the words of Ned Flanders, this is a dilly of a pickle. You may recall that Toyota and Ford share some very similiar components in their hybrid systems, but those two seem to get along just fine. As far as I can see, Paice doesn’t make, well, anything. They do hold several wide-reaching patents, and the ones in question in the original court case were patent #5,343,970, 6,209,272, 6,544,088. There is a whole lot of legalese to decipher there, and I doubt Toyota will be forced to withhold its hybrid imports anytime soon.

But Paice is going for the jugular by asking for an exclusion clause, and it argues that the new generation of hybrid vehicles infringe on many of the same patents.  I’m no fan of hybrids, but this seems rather excessive, especially for a company that doesn’t even have a market share to protect from Toyota.

Source: Bloomberg

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.