Coulomb and ECOtality Targeted as Sipco Enforcement Expands into EV Charging Systems

February 23rd, 2011 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »


In previous posts here and here, I discussed Atlanta, Georgia, wireless mesh technology company Sipco’s patent infringement suits against utilities and various smart meter and energy management companies.

Last month Sipco expanded the scope of its patent enforcement activity to include players in the electric vehicle charging station space.

Sipco’s latest complaint (Sipco-ABB_Complaint), filed in federal court in Tyler, Texas, names Coulomb Technologies and ECOtality as defendants, as well as additional energy management, control system, and wireless companies such as EnergyHub, Jetlun, SmartLabs, ABB, and Ingersoll-Rand.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patents Nos. 7,103,511, 6,437,692, and 7,697,492, which relate to remote monitoring and control systems.

According to the complaint, ECOtality’s EV Project, Blink Network, and EV Charging Stations and Coulomb’s Electric Vehicle Charging Stations and ChargePoint Network contain wireless networks that infringe the asserted patents. 

The asserted patents are directed to cost effective methods and systems for collecting, formatting and monitoring data from remote devices.  A control system (200) consists of one or more sensor/actuators (212, 214, 216, 222, 224) each integrated with a (preferably RF, or radio frequency) transceiver.  The control system also includes stand-alone transceivers (211, 213, 215, 221). 


The integrated and stand-alone transceivers (211, 213, 215, 221) are configured to receive an incoming RF transmission (from remote devices) and to transmit an outgoing signal.  Local gateways (210, 220) receive remote data transmissions from the integrated or stand-alone transceivers (211, 213, 215, 221), analyze the transmissions, convert them into TCP/IP format for internet transmission and communicate the transmissions via wide area network, or WAN (230).

According to the asserted patents, having the local gateways (210, 220) permanently integrated with the WAN (230) allows the server (260) to host application specific software that previously had to be hosted in application specific local controllers.  The patents explain:

…the data monitoring and control devices of the present invention need not be disposed in a permanent location as long as they remain within signal range of a system compatible transceiver that subsequently is within signal range of a local gateway interconnected through one or more networks to server 260.

With this latest suit by Sipco adding the likes of Coulomb and ECOtality to its infringement targets, this CleanTechLaw piece on the increasing importance of EV patents looks prescient.


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