Canadian Manufacturing

Ford under heat for alleged patent plunder

Washington company files patent lawsuit against Ford Motor Co.



BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA—A Washington-based technology company is suing Ford Motor Co. for allegedly stealing its technologies.

Eagle Harbor Holdings LLC and its subsidiary and exclusive licensee, MediusTech, LLC, filed the suit last week.

They allege that Ford is using their technologies in several of its vehicle systems, ranging from Active Park Assist, Blind-Spot Identification System with Cross Traffic Alert and MyKey.

Eagle Harbor Chairman Dan Preston invented most of the patents asserted in the lawsuit. He also co-founded Airbiquity, a Seattle-based company whose technologies were used in the General Motors OnStar system.

“Our representatives began meeting with Ford in 2002 to discuss and disclose our patented automotive systems technology and its applicability for use in Ford vehicles,” said Jeffrey Harmes, general counsel for Eagle Harbor.

Harmes says those meetings continued until 2008, when the automaker stopped communicating with them.

Not long after, they allege Ford’s automotive audio and electronics systems were infringing on their patents.

“Despite our many efforts to communicate with Ford and resolve these issues, Ford continues to refuse to license its use of our patented technology,” Harmes said.

Ford spokesperson Marcey Evans would not comment on the allegations.

“We were just served with this lawsuit late last week and we have not yet had an opportunity to review the details…it would be premature for us to comment until we have had a chance to do so,” she said.

It’s not the first time that a major automaker has been served with papers over patent disputes.

Last summer, Toyota avoided heading to the International Trade Commission when it settled a case brought on by Paice, LLC, a hybrid technology developer headquarted in Florida.

The settlement, which was never disclosed, involved Toyota’s use of a high-voltage system to power its gas-electric hybrid cars, including the Prius.

PAICE also settled a case that summer with Ford over hybrid technology patents.

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