Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update


Several green patent lawsuits have been filed in the last two weeks in the areas of smart grid, wastewater treatment, and emissions reduction technology.  

In addition, the U.S. International Trade Commission decided to move forward with an important investigation regarding solar panel mounting systems.


Smart Grid

 TransData, Inc. v. San Diego Gas & Electric Company

TransData, Inc. v. Wisconsin Power & Light Company

These complaints (TransData-SDG&E_Complaint / TransData-WP&L_Complaint), filed October 31, 2011 in the Southern District of California and November 1, 2011 in the Western District of Wisconsin, respectively, add to a host of recent lawsuits by Texas smart meter company TransData against a number of regional utilities. 

Details on the other TransData suits can be found in previous posts here and here.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patents Nos. 6,181,294 (‘294 Patent), 6,462,713 (‘713 Patent) and 6,903,699 (‘699 Patent), which relate to antennas and wireless communication devices for use with electric meters.

The ‘294, ‘713 and ‘699 Patents are related patents which trace back to an original 1998 filing date.  They describe early solutions for wireless transmission of electrical consumption data.

The accused products are electric meters deployed by the utilities, including certain Elster meters using Sensus wireless modules and certain Itron meters.

Mesh Comm LLC v. Trilliant Networks, Inc.

Mesh Comm, an Atlanta, Georgia, company filed a complaint (MeshComm-Trilliant_Complaint) November 4, 2011 in the Western District of Kentucky against Redwood City, California-based smart grid communications company Trilliant.

Mesh Comm, apparently a non-practicing patentee, is asserting U.S. Patent No. 8,019,836 (‘836 Patent) relating to a system for enabling wireless communication between meters so utilities can remotely monitor and control energy usage. 

A previous post discussed Mesh Comm’s patent infringement suit against Potomac Electric Power Company and Silver Spring involving a related patent.


Wastewater Treatment

Polylok, Inc. v. Bear Onsite

On November 3, 2011 Connecticut-based wastewater treatment solutions provider Polylok sued Bear Onsite, a water treatment product development company, in the District of Connecticut.

Polylok alleges that Bear Onsite’s effluent septic filters and water level control alert devices infringe U.S. Patent No. 6,129,837, entitled “Waste water treatment filter including waste water level control alert device” (‘837 Patent). 

The ‘837 Patent is directed to a filtration device for a waste water treatment tank with a level alert device to provide an alarm when the filter becomes plugged.  The claims are directed to particular means for mounting the alert device to the filter.

Emissions Reduction

Enerfex, Inc. v. UOP LLC et al.

In this suit, a Vermont company called Enerfex accuses oil refiner UOP (formerly Universal Oil Products Company), Quicksilver Resources and Breitburn Energy Partners of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,482,539 (‘539 Patent).

Entitled “Multiple stage semi-permeable membrane process and apparatus for gas separation,” the ‘539 Patent is directed to membrane processes and apparatus for producing a very high purity permeate gas, which can reduce the amount of methane loss in “vent gas.”

Enerfex alleges that the HAYES 29 natural gas power plant in Northern Michigan includes infringing membrane systems installed and operated by UOP.  The complaint specifically cites the Separax brand membranes products.



In re: Certain Integrated Solar Power Systems and Components Thereof (Westinghouse Solar, Inc. v. Zep Solar, Inc. et al.)

On November 2, 2011 the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it would open an investigation into Westinghouse’s allegations that Zep and Canadian Solar imported solar panels that infringe two Westinghouse patents.

The investigation stems from a complaint (Westinghouse_ITC_Complaint) filed by Westinghouse in early October.  A previous post discussed that complaint and some of the history of patent litigation between Westinghouse (formerly Akeena Solar) and Zep.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patents Nos. 7,406,800 (‘800 Patent) and 7,987,641 (‘641 Patent).

Both patents cover what Westinghouse refers to as the “Andalay System,” a solar power system which includes solar panels with integrated racking, wiring and grounding (DC solar panels), and integrated microinverters (AC solar panels) for residential and commercial customers.

Eric Lane Avatar

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.