Paice Targets Toyota Again with New Hybrid Vehicle Patent

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The ink had barely dried on Paice LLC‘s (Paice) new hybrid vehicle patent when the Florida-based hybrid technology company once again accused Toyota of infringement.  U.S. Patent No. 7,392,871 (‘871 patent) issued on July 1st, and Paice filed suit the same day in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

The bare bones complaint (paicecomplaint.pdf) alleges that Toyota directly infringes the ‘871 patent by making and selling the Highlander hybrid SUV and the Lexus RX400h hybrid SUV and that the carmaker induces and contributes to infringement by encouraging others to operate the vehicles.  The complaint asks the court for an injunction, compensatory damages, treble damages for willful infringement and an award of attorney fees.

The ‘871 patent is the latest in a family of patents that cover improvements upon Paice’s U.S. Patent No. 5,343,970 (‘970 patent).  The ‘871 patent claims a hybrid vehicle having three AC electric motors each with an AC-DC converter. 

The patent explains that providing three motors (one is a starting motor, the other two are traction motors) conveys mechanical and efficiency advantages such as eliminating the need for a fore-and-aft driveshaft and allowing traction control to be centrally accomplished by a microprocessor.

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Paice’s assertion of the ‘871 patent opens a new front in a series of battles with Toyota.  Two prior lawsuits involved the ‘970 patent.

In one of those suits, the Prius and other Toyota hybrids were found to infringe and Paice was awarded $4.3 million in damages.  (see my previous posts on that case here, here and here).  Toyota tried to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, but the Supremes refused to hear the case.  Another suit, also in the Eastern District of Texas, is pending.

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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.