The Top 3 Patent Cases in the Last Few Years

Your patents are your business – without them, your products lack the protections necessary to perform on the market. Just as important as the patents themselves is defending them. With even more businesses entering the market alongside the tech boom of new electric cars, there’s a lot to watch out for. We’ve seen an increase in patent litigation over the past few years in the automotive space, mainly driven by the new electric vehicle sector. Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the most important cases in patent litigation, which could set the standard for the future of patents for manufacturers. 

  1. ABPA v. Ford (2018)

In 2018, the Automotive Body Parts Association (ABPA) brought a lawsuit against Ford, arguing that design patents that Ford held should be ruled unenforceable, on the basis that items such as headlamps are functional, and therefore not eligible for protection under a design patent. Although the parts are functional, the court ruled that a design patent is still applicable, because the design of the parts is still critical to the product. This case established that parts which are both functional and aesthetic are still able to receive design patents.

  1. ChargePoint Inc. v. SemaConnect Inc. (2019)

As the owner of the patent, ChargePoint Inc. defended a patent that they claimed to be an improvement to electric vehicle charging stations that would connect the stations to a network, allowing for drivers to find the station, and for them to be managed in a single central location. The court deemed this patent to be of an idea, not of any specific mechanical or physical specifications. While there were some physical aspects to the patent, the court specified that the patent never stated that the charging stations are significantly different than existing ones and that the patent was much more focused on the network, not the stations themselves.

  1. Intellectual Ventures LLC v. Toyota Motor Corp. (2021)

This case highlights what may become a common issue in the future for automotive manufacturers – litigation over communications technology. In the business of mobile phones and computers, licensing for wireless communications technology is commonplace, and accepted as part of the territory. As vehicles become more connected than ever before, many experts say that their manufacturers will have to follow suit. Intellectual Ventures decided to take action against Toyota for infringement of patents they manage, including technology owned by Qualcomm, one of the largest manufacturers of wireless technology for cellphones. The case is currently undecided, but the future for companies like Toyota seems clear. Much more thorough research into the licensing of systems included in vehicles will be necessary to avoid similar litigation in the future.

Thankfully, an experienced intellectual property attorney can help your business avoid problems just like these. For assistance in protecting your products and your company, contact Aftermarket Law today by calling (720) 221-4545, or through our website.

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