Mitsubishi setback in GE patent fight

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has been dealt another setback in its long-rumbling legal dispute with General Electric, with a US court backing its earlier ruling that GE did not infringe an MHI patent related to blade pitch control.

A US District Court in Orlando, Florida on 8 February “upheld its previously issued summary judgment” from July 2012 and “declared its finding that no infringement had occurred”, MHI said in a statement.

MHI believes the judgment “has too narrowly interpreted” the scope of the patent, which deals with technology aimed at reducing the stress on wind turbines by controlling the pitch of the blades depending on their rotation angle.

MHI “intends to continue taking the necessary measures to enable its claim to be recognised”. However, the company stopped short of confirming its intention to exercise its right to kick the case up to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Court.

The July 2012 ruling was in response to legal action brought by MHI against GE in 2010.

The two turbine makers have been locked in disputes over intellectual property for nearly five years, since GE first alleged patent infringements against MHI in 2008. That came after the Japanese company began winning orders in the US for its 2.3/2.4MW machine.

MHI has accused GE of attempting to stifle competition, while acknowledging that the ongoing conflict has dented its US sales.

MHI says the ruling will have no immediate impact on its earnings.

For the first time, GE took the title of world’s largest wind-turbine supplier last year, on the back of a 13.1GW explosion of new capacity in the US, where it holds the largest market share, according to BTM Consult.

GE stole the title from Vestas, which had held it since 2000.