Will Ford hybrids be excluded from the U.S. for infringing Paice patents? ITC hearing begins Nov. 2


Will Ford hybrids be excluded from the U.S. for infringing Paice patents? ITC hearing begins Nov. 2
U.S. International Trade Commission could ban Ford from importing hybrid vehicles made in Mexico

Paice LLC, a pioneer in the development of hybrid vehicle technology, and Ford Motor Co. will appear before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) this week to address patent infringement claims against Ford. The ITC hearing before the Honorable David P. Shaw will begin on Thursday, Nov. 2.

If Paice prevails, all imports of Ford’s infringing hybrid cars (including the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models) would be barred from entering the United States.

“Not weeks, not months, but years. That’s how long Paice engineers worked alongside Ford to teach them in exacting detail how our patented technology could make their hybrids more competitive,” said Paice CEO Robert Oswald. “Then, they tossed us aside and started introducing hybrid vehicles that used our technology. Ford started winning in the hybrid space when they embraced Dr. Severinsky’s inventions.”

Paice and the Abell Foundation filed a complaint in February 2017 asking the ITC to prohibit Ford from importing hybrid vehicles. Ford manufactures many of its hybrid vehicles in Mexico.

Paice’s hybrid vehicle technology is well known. It currently has license agreements with Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and other automakers who collectively account for 70% of all hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S. An independent study concluded that Paice’s hybrid vehicle patents are among the world’s most significant.

The Paice/Ford Relationship
Ford’s senior management, including Chairman Bill Ford, Jr., supported Ford’s initial foray into the hybrid market and encouraged Ford’s collaboration with Paice. That support initiated a multi-year relationship between Paice and Ford from 1999 to 2004 during which Paice interacted with more than a dozen Ford executives and engineers. Paice performed detailed modeling and component design work for Ford in the belief that the companies would come to a business agreement.

In the end, other than a stopgap license to a single patent, Ford refused to license the full scope of Paice’s patented technology.  This, despite the fact that Ford was fully aware that Toyota lost a jury verdict to Paice on what Ford characterized as being essentially the same technology.

After years of trying to negotiate a licensing agreement with Ford, Paice filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Ford in U.S. District Court in 2014. While many carmakers have licensed Paice’s hybrid patents, Ford chose to try to bury Paice in litigation. It filed 25 petitions before the U.S. Patent Office challenging the patents, and delayed the case in federal court. Despite Ford’s efforts, Paice has many claims that remain valid, meaning the dispute will progress to a resolution. The first meaningful evaluation will occur in the ITC.

About Paice (www.paicehybrid.com)
Dr. Alex Severinsky, a Russian immigrant, founded Paice in 1992 with the support of the University of Maryland. Paice made its mark in the hybrid industry by discovering new ways to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions without sacrificing driving performance. Paice presented its hybrid breakthroughs alongside Toyota and Ford at industry conferences and before the U.S. Senate. To date, Paice has been awarded 30 U.S. and foreign patents, including four of the world’s most influential hybrid patents according to an independent study.

About the Abell Foundation (www.abell.org)
The Abell Foundation, a Baltimore-based charitable organization dedicated to fighting urban poverty and promoting social objectives by investing in progressive local start-ups, is a co-owner of the Paice patents and a co-complainant in the ITC filing. Since 1999, Abell has helped support Paice’s efforts to develop and promote its hybrid technology.

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