Tech Week Ahead: Ill Winds on Patents for GE, Mitsubishi Heavy

February 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News


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GE, Mitsubishi Heavy Renew Wind Turbine Fight

GE, Mitsubishi Heavy Renew Wind Turbine Fight

GE, Mitsubishi Heavy Renew Wind Turbine Fight

General Electric wind turbines stand in Rio Vista, California. Opening arguments are set to begin tomorrow on a wind turbine patent-infringement suit GE filed two years ago against Mitsubishi. Photo: Kimberly White/Bloomberg

General Electric wind turbines stand in Rio Vista, California. Opening arguments are set to begin tomorrow on a wind turbine patent-infringement suit GE filed two years ago against Mitsubishi. Photo: Kimberly White/Bloomberg

General Electric Co. (GE), the biggest
U.S. maker of wind turbines, is turning to a Texas jury this
week to damp competition from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011)

Opening arguments are set to begin tomorrow in a Dallas
courtroom on a patent-infringement suit GE filed two years ago
against Tokyo-based Mitsubishi. The trial may last through next
week.

The dispute revolves around GE’s attempt to maintain its
lead in the U.S. wind turbine market. The case is the second
between the two to reach trial, following GE’s loss in a U.S.
International Trade Commission case in Washington that sought to
block imports of Mitsubishi’s turbines over different patents. A
federal appeals court that heard arguments more than a year ago
involving the ITC case has yet to issue an opinion.

Mitsubishi is accused in the Dallas case of infringing a
patent on a way to keep turbines connected to utility grids
during voltage fluctuations without sustaining damage. A second
patent in the case, related to the turbines’ base design, was
ruled invalid by U.S. District Judge Royal Ferguson Feb. 10.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, claims that at least
179 Mitsubishi turbines made for Iberdrola SA (IBE)’s renewables unit
and Edison Mission Energy infringe the first patent. Mitsubishi
signed contracts with the power companies in 2007 and 2008, and
the turbines were installed in 2010 and 2011.

Mitsubishi has accused GE in a separate antitrust case of
using its patents to monopolize the wind turbine market. That
lawsuit is on hold pending the outcome of the GE patent cases.

A 2.4-megawatt wind turbine, the type at the center of the
Dallas trial, currently costs about $3.2 million, based on an
assumed $1.43 million per megawatt in turbine capacity,
according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Wind Turbine Price
Index (WTPIPALL)
.

The U.S. has the second-largest amount of wind capacity in
the world behind China, according to a Feb. 7 report by the
global Wind Energy Council.

ALSO WORTH WATCHING

POWER GRID CYBERSECURITY: The House Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations plans a hearing
tomorrow to examine utility companies’ efforts to defend their
computer networks from hackers. Legislation is needed to help
prevent cyber attacks from crippling electrical grids serving
more than 300 million people in the U.S. and Canada, House
members and regulators say.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Susan Decker in Washington at
sdecker1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Michael Shepard at
mshepard7@bloomberg.net;

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