Archive for the ‘Water Filtration’ category

NanoH2O’s Patented Particular Membranes Improve Economics of Desalination

November 22nd, 2013

NanoH2O is a Los Angeles-based startup that has developed a new membrane material for use in reverse osmosis (RO) desalination.  While RO is an established technology, its economic viability hinges on the properties and performance of the membrane.

NanoH2O’s CEO, quoted in this Greentech Media article, put it this way:  “A more productive membrane allows less energy to be used and provides higher throughput.”

The company owns at least five U.S. patents and applications relating to its membrane technology, which uses nanomaterials to boost permeability.  This is important because a more permeable membrane allows more fresh water through with less pressure from an energy-driven pump.

U.S. Patent No. 8,177,978 (’978 Patent) is entitled “Reverse osmosis membranes” and directed to reverse osmosis membranes incorporating nanoparticles and processes for preparing the membranes.  In different embodiments, the nanoparticles are incorporated into various layers of the membrane.

In Figure 1 of the ’978 Patent, RO membrane (10) has nanoparticles (16) dispersed in the aqueous phase layer (14) on the upper surface of the support membrane (12).  The organic phase layer (18) interacts with the aqueous layer (14), and polymerization occurs at the interface of these two layers.

According to the ’978 Patent, the nanoparticles release metal species, resulting in improved fouling resistance and increased flux:

In some embodiments, nanoparticles may be selected for their ability to release metal species such as alkaline earth or aluminum ions. Such particles may be dispersed within either the aqueous layer 14 or the organic phase layer 18, or both. Additional nanoparticles may also be present to impact surface properties or further increase performance, for example to improve fouling resistance. . . .By dispersing aluminum releasing nanoparticles 16 in the aqueous or polar solvent 14 and/or organic phase layer 18 before interfacial polymerization, increased flux is often observed, especially when nanoparticles 16 are processed to enhance solubility of metal ions.

The membrane (10) shown in Figures 2-4 has nanoparticles or other insoluble carriers (16) in difference locations, i.e., in the organic phase / layer (18), in both the aqueous layer (14) and the organic layer (18), and/or in a layer between the aqueous layer (14) and the support membrane (12).

In one embodiment, RO membrane (10) has nanoparticles (22) in the fabric layer (20) that forms the backing of the membrane, making the backing more mechanically robust so it can be made thinner than conventional backings.  There are also nanoparticles (16), which may be the same or different from nanoparticles (22), in the discrimination layer (24).

According to the Greentech Media piece, NanoH20 plans to build a manufacturing facility in China, where its desal technology is badly needed.

Aussie “Soccer Ball” Scores Twice with Wave Energy and Fresh Water

September 30th, 2013

Carnegie Wave Energy (Carnegie) is an Australian company that develops and commercializes wave energy technology that can not only provide power but also desalinated water.

Carnegie says it will build the world’s first wave-powered desalination plant that will generate energy as well as fresh water (see CleanTechnica article here).

The company’s CETO technology includes a buoyant acuator design rated at 240kW.  The technology is covered by at least one international, or PCT, patent application, Publication No. WO 2009/076712 (’712 Application).

Entitled “Buoyant actuator,” the ’712 Application is directed to a wave energy apparatus (11) including a buoyant actuator (19) with an exterior surface and an interior that is substantially hollow except for a buoyant internal support structure. 

A major advantage of the technology, according to the ’712 Application is that the substantially hollow nature of the buoyant actuator makes it “lightweight compared to prior art floats.”

The exterior surface comprises a plurality of facets (101), which are tessellated to “create the generally spherical shape (somewhat similar to that of a soccer ball)…”  According to the ’712 Application, one embodiment of the apparatus has 36 facets, of which 12 are pentagonal and 24 are hexagonal. 

The apparatus is installed for operation in a body of seawater (12) having a water surface (13) and a seabed (14), and exterior surface of the apparatus has a plurality of openings for fluid flow between the hollow interior and the surrounding body of water.

Pumps (15) are anchored within the body of water (12), attached to a base (17) anchored to the seabed (14), and operatively connected to the buoyant actuator (19) by a coupling (21) including a tether (23).  Each pump (15) is activated by movement of the buoyant actuator (19) in response to wave motion.

The pumps (15) provide high pressure water, which can be used for power generation and/or desalination.  Indeed, Carnegie’s desalination pilot project at the Garden Island naval base near Perth will use the high pressure water to operate reverse osmosis desalination technology.

This will be a world first, according to the CleanTechnica piece, and an elegant clean tech double bill.

 

 

Three Strikes and Aquatech’s Out as Court Bounces DJ Action Again

September 5th, 2013

 

A previous post discussed Aquatech‘s declaratory judgment (DJ) action against Water Systems and Veolia Water seeking a judgment that U.S. Patent No. 7,815,804 (’804 Patent) is invalid and unenforceable and that Aquatech’s water filtration processes do not infringe the ’804 Patent.

The ’804 Patent is entitled “Method for treating wastewater or produced water” and relates to Veolia’s OPUS process, a high-efficiency water purification technology that uses reverse osmosis to treat industrial waste streams.

Aquatech claims that the defendants have coerced and intimidated its potential partners and customers under threat of patent litigation, particularly with respect to Aquatech’s proposal to use its patented HERO water purification process at a power plant to be constructed by Bechtel and a proposal for a project at the Pio Pico Energy Center.

The court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss Aquatech’s initial complaint for lack of DJ jurisdiction, and subsequently dismissed its amended complaint on the same ground.  Aquatech filed a second amended complaint in March 2013, adding a claim for tortious interference.

Recently, the court for the third time granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of DJ jurisdiction. 

To establish declaratory judgment jurisdiction there must be a “case or controversy,” that is “a substantial controversy between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”

According to the court, during the course of the legal proceedings the defendants executed four covenants not to sue, which formed, at least in part, the basis for all three of the court’s decisions.

The second covenant waived defendants’ right to assert any infringement claim related to the proposed Bechtel process.  The third covenant more broadly waived defendants’ right to assert that the patented HERO processes infringe the ’804 Patent.  Finally, the fourth covenant waived defendants’ right to assert infringement claims with respect to the proposed Pio Pico Energy Center process.

The court found that defendants’ “multiple covenants not to sue preclude plaintiffs from maintaining declaratory judgment jurisdiction”  because covenants relate to Aquatech’s HERO process and demonstrate that the defendants believe the process does not infringe the patent-in-suit:

[T]he covenants at issue in this case are written and memorialized and cover both past, present, and future infringement claims with respect to the HERO process generally, and specifically the Bechtel project and Pio Pico Energy Center project processes….the covenants not to sue in this case merely affirm defendants’ repeated assertions that they do not believe that the HERO Patents infringe the ’804 Patent.

Accordingly, the court dismissed Aquatech’s DJ claim of non-infringement because the covenants “moot[s] the basis for declaratory judgment relief.” 

With respect to Aquatech’s DJ claims that the ’804 Patent is invalid and unenforceable, they also had to be dismissed because they are defenses to infringement:

 Without an active case or controversy with respect to defendants’ patent rights in the ’804 Patent, plaintiffs’ claims of invalidity and unenforceability must also be dismissed.  Invalidity and unenforceability are defenses to a claim of infringement.  Until plaintiffs can establish that there is a real and immediate threat that defendants will take action to enforce their rights with respect to the ’804 Patent, plaintiffs cannot continue to assert defenses to such claims.

This decision closes the case on infringement and related defenses for now.  Aquatech could bring another DJ action only if the defendants make new threats of infringement in derogation of the covenants not to sue.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update, Part II

August 8th, 2013

The second part of this green patent complaint update covers the period mid-June through most of July, during which several new complaints were filed in the areas of biofuels, components for hybrid and electric vehicles, LEDs, energy efficiency, solar air conditioners, water technology, and waste treatment.

 

Biofuels

GS Cleantech Corp. v. Western New York Energy, LLC

GS Cleantech recently filed another lawsuit, this one against Western New York Energy in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on July 12, 2013. 

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,601,8588,008,516, and 8,283,484, each entitled “Method of processing ethanol byproducts and related subsystems,” and U.S. Patent No. 8,008,517, entitled “Method of recovering oil from thin stillage.”  The patents relate to methods of recovering oil from byproducts of ethanol production using the process of dry milling, which creates a waste stream comprised of byproducts called whole stillage.

According to the complaint, Western New York uses infringing processes performed by ethanol production plants purchased from a plant designer called ICM.  ICM was involved in prior litigation with GS.

GS has been on an aggressive patent enforcement campaign over the last several years.  The multiple cases were consolidated in the Southern District of Indiana, where the asserted patents were construed and re-construed.

 

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Northern Cable and Automation, LLC v. General Motors Co.

This is a dispute over ownership and inventorship of U.S. Patent No. 7,976,333, entitled “Laminar electrical connector” (’333 Patent) and directed to an electrical connector specifically designed for use in hybrid and electric vehicles.

According to the complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Michigan on July 11, 2013, GM claims that one of its employees should be named as a co-inventor on the ’333 Patent and that Northern Cable, d/b/a, Flex Cable is obligated to assign certain rights in the patent to GM.

Flex Cable alleges that the inventor, Erwin Kroulik, conceived of the invention of the ’333 Patent before the date of an agreement with GM, and therefore Flex Cable is not obligated to assign any rights in the ’333 Patent to GM. 

 

LEDs

Trustees of Boston University v. Apple, Inc.

On July 2, 2013 BU filed another lawsuit in federal court in Boston, continuing its patent enforcement campaign against various LED makers and electronics manufacturers.  The complaint again asserts U.S. Patent No. 5,686,738 (’738 Patent). 

The ’738 Patent is entitled “Highly insulated monocrystalline gallium nitride thin films” and directed to gallium nitride semiconductor devices and methods of preparing highly insulating GaN single crystal films in a molecular beam epitaxial growth chamber.

The accused products are the iPhone 5, iPad, and MacBook Air that include allegedly infringing LED devices.

 

Energy Efficiency

Efficiency Systems, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.

Efficiency Systems, LLC v. Dell Inc.

Efficiency Systems, LLC v. IBM Corp.

Efficiency Systems, LLC v. Oracle Corp. et al.

On June 28 and 29, 2013, Efficiency Systems fired off four patent infringement suits in federal court in Delaware against Cisco (Cisco complaint), Dell (Dell complaint), IBM (IBM complaint), and Oracle (Oracle complaint).

Each complaint asserts U.S. Patent No. 6,986,069, entitled “Methods and apparatus for static and dynamic power management of computer systems” (’069 Patent).  The ’069 Patent is directed to a power authority system for manipulating the aggregate power consumption levels of multiple computer systems by managing the power consumption levels of the computer systems.

The accused systems include various server systems, computer systems and components containing power management features.

 

Solar Air Conditioners

Sedna Aire USA Inc. v. Eco Solar Technologies, Inc.

Sedna Aire recently sued Eco Solar for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,448,458, alleged cybersquatting, and alleged passing off in connection with use of the mark SOLAR COOL (and Design).

The ’458 Patent is entitled “Solar collector and solar air conditioning system having the same” and directed to a solar air conditioning system including a solar collector.  The system superheats working fluid using radiant energy from the sun and delivers the working fluid as a superheated and higher-pressure gas to a condenser within the solar air conditioning system.

Filed June 24, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the complaint alleges that Eco Solar is selling a solar air conditioner based on Sedna’s patented design and engaging in unauthorized use of the SOLAR COOL trademark.

 

Water Purification

Aquatech International Corp. v. Veolia Water West Operating Services, Inc. et al.

On June 27, 2013, Aquatech filed a complaint against Veolia in the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging infringement of two patents relating to water purification technology.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 5,925,255 and 6,537,456, each entitled “Method and apparatus for high efficiency reverse osmosis operation.”  The patents relate to Aquatech’s HERO water purification process, a high efficiency reverse osmosis water purification process which is used in many industries including power generation, petrochemical, and microelectronics. 

The accused process is Veolia’s OPUS technology, which the complaint alleges Veolia is using in various locations including a Chevron oil production field in San Ardo, California and the Arroyo Grande Oilfield in San Luis Obispo County, California.

 

Waste Treatment

Trunzo v. Grobstein

In this suit filed June 25, 2013 in federal court in Los Angeles, Michael Trunzo sued the trustee for the bankruptcy estate of debtor International Environmental Solutions Corporation (IES) and purchasers of IES’s assets for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,868,085 (’085 Patent).

Entitled “Pyrolytic waste treatment system,” the ’085 Patent is directed to a system for pyrolysis of hydrocarbon constituents of waste material including a heating chamber in communication with the atmosphere via a first valve and in communication with a pyrolysis chamber via a second internal valve.

The complaint alleges that the defendants have infringed the ’085 Patent by reverse engineering a waste-to-energy unit, and the defendants have issued a distributorship/developers license to defendant Wayne Herling for the purpose of marketing, distributing and selling the the allegedly infringing units.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

June 9th, 2012

There have been several green patent complaints filed in the past several weeks in the fields of biofuels, LEDs, solar power, and industrial water purification.

 

Biofuels

Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC v. Gevo, Inc.

On May 15, 2012, Butamax filed suit against Gevo in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging Gevo is infringing one of its patents related to the production of isobutanol using recombinant microorganisms. 

This suit is the latest in the expanding litigation between Gevo and Butamax (see, e.g., previous posts here, here, here, here, and the post on Butamax’s opening shot).

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 8,178,328, entitled “Fermentive Production of Four Carbon Alcohols” (’328 Patent).  The ‘328 Patent is the latest in a family of patents – including U.S. Patent Nos. 7,993,889 and 7,851,188  – that Butamax has been asserting against Gevo.

According to the Butamax complaint, the ‘328 Patent discloses and claims certain recombinant microbial host cells comprising an engineered isobutanol biosynthetic pathway.

Butamax alleges that Gevo uses recombinant microbial host cells capable of producing isobutanol that embody the invention in the ‘328 Patent, and that Gevo’s U.S. Patent No. 8,097,440 includes examples of such infringing host cells.

Gevo is seeking a judgment that Gevo infringes the ‘328 Patent, preliminary and permanent injunctions, and monetary damages.

 

Neste Oil Oyj v. Dynamic Fuels, LLC et al.

Neste Oil Oyj filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware on May 29, 2012 against Dynamic Fuels, Syntroleum Corporation and Tyson Foods, alleging Defendants’ synthetic renewable diesel fuels infringe U.S. Patent No. 8,187,344 (’344 Patent).

The ’344 Patent is entitled “Fuel Composition for a Diesel Engine” and directed to diesel fuels made from animal, plant, or fish fatty acids.

Dynamic Fuels is a joint venture of Syntroleum and Tyson Foods that operates refineries capable of producing allegedly infringing synthetic renewable diesel fuels using the necessary biological feedstock.

According to the Neste complaint, the Dynamic Fuels plant has produced substantial volumes of the accused product over the past couple of years.

Neste  is seeking a judgement of infringement of the ’344 Patent, a permanent injunction, and monetary damages.

 

LEDs

Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation et al. v. Power Integrations, Inc.

Filed May 1, 2012 in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation and System General Corporation’s (collectively “Fairchild”) complaint alleges that Power Integrations infringes four patents owned by Fairchild:

U.S. Patent No. 7,525,259, entitled “Primary Side Regulated Power Supply System With Constant Current Output” (’259 Patent);

U.S. Patent No. 7,286,123, entitled “LED Driver Circuit Having Temperature Consideration” (’123 Patent);

U.S. Patent No. 7,616,461, entitled “Control Method and Circuit with Indirect Input Voltage Detection by Switching Current Slope Detection” (’461 Patent); and

U.S. Patent No. 7,259,972, entitled “Primary-Side-Control Power Converter Having a Switching Controller Using Frequency Hopping and Voltage and Current Control Loops” (’972 Patent).

Fairchild alleges that Power Integrations’ LinkSwitch-PH controllers infringe the ‘259, ‘123, and ‘461 Patents.

According to Fairchild’s complaint, Power Integrations’ LinkSwitch-II and Linkswitch-CV devices were previously found to infringe claims 6, 7, 18, and 19 of the ‘972 Patent.  

However, Fairchild alleges that the same day, Power Integrations issued a press release encouraging customers to continue using the infringing products by stating that its customers are unaffected by the verdict. As such, Fairchild claims that Power Integrations is now inducing infringement of claims 6, 7, 18, and 19 of the ‘972 Patent.

Fairchild is seeking a judgment of infringement, an injunction, and monetary damages.

 

Ruud Lighting, Inc. v. Cooper Lighting, LLC

On May 23, 2012, Ruud Lighting filed suit against Cooper Lighting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin seeking a permanent injunction and monetary damages for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,952,262 (’262 Patent).

Entitled “Modular LED Unit Incorporating Interconnected Heat Sinks Configured to Mount and Hold Adjacent LED Modules,” the ’262 Patent is directed to a modular LED unit including one or more LED modules, each bearing an array of LEDs and secured to a heat sink.

Ruud manufactures and sells numerous LED products embodying the invention of the ‘262 Patent for area and street lighting applications and certain floodlight lighting products.

According to the Ruud complaint, Cooper sells a product known as its “Generation Series LED Post Top Luminaire,” which infringes the ‘262 Patent.

 

Solar

Rena GMBH v. M.E. Baker Company

Rena GMBH filed suit against M.E. Baker Company on May 3, 2012 in  the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  Rena is alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,943,526, entitled “Process for the Wet-Chemical Treatment of One Side Silicon Wafers” (’526 Patent).

The ‘526 Patent is directecd to a process for wet-chemical treatment of one side of a silicon wafer using a liquid bath.  The patented invention improves upon prior processes for protecting or masking the surfaces that are not to be chemically treated.

According to the Rena Complaint, M.E. Baker Company’s treatment process infringes the ’526 Patent. 

Rena GMBH is seeking a permanent injunction and monetary damages

 

Water Purification

Calgon Carbon Corporation et al. v. Remote Light Water, Inc.

Calgon Carbon Corporation and Hyde Marine, Inc. (collectively “Calgon”) filed suit against Remote Light Water (RLW), seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of RLW’s U.S. Patents Nos. 6,447,721 (’721 Patent) and 6,403,030 (’030 Patent).

Filed May 8, 2012 in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Calgon’s Complaint alleges that counsel for RLW sent a letter offering Calgon a license under the ’721 and ’030 Patents for Calgon’s Sentinal UV drinking water disinfectant product.

The ‘721 Patent describes a UV disinfection system comprising at least one light source with controllable UV light output that has at least one UV dose zone for providing effective sterilization of microorganisms within the water.  The ’030 Patent describes a similar process effective for treating waste-containing fluid.

According to the Complaint, Calgon has reasonable apprehension that RLW will sue for infringement because RLW is “in the business of enforcing its patent portfolio through litigation.” 

*Jeff Woodley is a contributor to Green Patent Blog.  Jeff is a summer associate at McKenna Long & Aldridge and is currently in his final year at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.  He received his undergraduate degree in Economics also from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

May 4th, 2012

There have been several green patent complaints filed in the past several weeks in the fields of biofuels, LEDs, lithium ion batteries, and industrial water purification.

 

Biofuels

Gevo, Inc. v. Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC and E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co.

On April 10, 2012, Gevo filed suit against Butamax and DuPont in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging Butamax and DuPont are infringing one of its patents related to the production of isobutanol.  This suit is the latest salvo in litigation between Gevo and Butamax.  (see previous posts here, here, here, and most recently here.)

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 8,153,415, entitled “Reduced By-Product Accumulation for Improved Production of Isobutanol” (the ‘415 Patent).  The ’415 Patent issued on April 10, 2012, the same day Gevo filed this latest suit against Butamax. 

According to the complaint (Gevo-Butamax_Complaint-4-10-12), the ‘415 Patent describes “recombinant isobutanol-producing microorganisms containing a disruption in the expression or activity of an endogenous 3-keto acid reductase activity and methods for producing isobutanol using such organisms.”

Gevo’s complaint alleges Butamax makes infringing microorganisms to produce isobutanol through deletion or inactivation of the YMR226c gene.  Gevo claims Butamax describes its infringing process in PCT Publication No. WO/2011/159853, entitled “Recombinant Host Cells Comprising Phosphoketolases”, and PCT Publication No. WO/2011/159998 entitled “Production of Alcohol Esters and In Situ Product Removal During Alcohol Fermentation”.

Gevo is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions and damages.

 

LEDs

Whelen Engineering Company, Inc. v. CPS Emergency LED Lighting & Equipment

Filed March 29, 2012 in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, Whelen’s complaint (Whelen Complaint) alleges CPS infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6,641,284, entitled “LED Light Assembly”, and D500,384, entitled “Reflector for Light Assembly”.

Whelen also alleges CPS has infringed several of its trademarks.  The marks at issue are Whelen’s LINEAR-LED, FREEDOM and VERTEX marks.  Whelen claims CPS has either used identical marks or confusingly similar marks.

Whelen is seeking treble and punitive damages and injunctive relief.  They are also seeking CPS’s alleged infringing products be destroyed.

Lektron, Inc. v. iLight Technologies, Inc.

Lektron, Inc. v. Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions, Inc.

Lektron, Inc. v. The Sloan Company, Inc. dba SloanLED, Inc.

On April 6, 2012, Lektron filed three separate suits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma alleging that iLight, Philips and SloanLED have each infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,361,186 entitled “Simulated Neon Light Using LED’s” (’186 Patent).  (Each complaint can be viewed here: (Lektron-iLight Complaint) (Lektron-Philips Complaint) (Lektron-Sloan Complaint)).

The ’186 Patent describes a product designed to replace traditional neon lights with a more durable product that consumed less energy by replacing fragile glass tubes with energy efficient LED lights.  The Lektron product is sold under the LEON trademark.

Lektron is alleging direct infringement and is seeking injunctive relief and damages from each defendant.

Everlight Electronics Co. Ltd., and Emcore Corporation v. Nichia Corporation, and Nichia America Corporation

On April 19, 2012, Everlight filed suit against Nichia (Everlight-Nichia Complaint) in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, seeking declaratory judgment for patent non-infringement, invalidity, and unenforceability of two of Nichia’s patents, and alleging Nichia is infringing one of its patents.

Everlight is seeking declaratory judgment for patent non-infringement, invalidity, and unenforceability of two patents owned by Nichia:  U.S. Patent Nos. 5,998,925 entitled “Light Emitting Device Having a Nitride Compound Semiconductor and Phosphor Containing Garnet Fluorescent Material” (’925 Patent), and 7,531,960 entitled “Light Emitting Device with Blue Light LED and Phosphor Components” (’960 Patent).

Nichia recently filed suit against an Everlight customer in a Tokyo District Court asserting the Japanese counterpart to the ’970 Patent (Japanese Patent No. 4350094).  Nichia also filed suit against Everlight in Germany asserting the European counterpart to the ’925 Patent (European Patent No. EP 0 936 682). 

According to the Everlight complaint, Nichia has threatened litigation over several other patents in Japan, and Everlight prevailed in a patent infringement action initiated by Nichia in Taiwan.  This suit, filed by Everlight, is in response to the suits Nichia has filed and the threats Nichia has made to Everlight’s potential clients.

In addition to seeking declaratory judgment for non-infringement and invalidity, Everlight is seeking declaratory judgment that the ’960 and ’925 patents are unenforceable due to fraud and inequitable conduct during prosecution by Nichia.

Everlight is also asserting that Nichia infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,653,215 entitled “Contact to N-GaN with Au Termination” (’215 Patent).  Everlight is seeking damages, attorney fees and costs.

 

Lithium Ion Batteries

Energizer Holdings, Inc., Eveready Battery Company, Inc., v. Wahl Clipper Corp., and Wahl Clipper Ningbo Ltd.

Filed April 11, 2012 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Energizer’s complaint (Energizer_Complaint) alleges that Wahl infringes several of its patents.  The patents in dispute are U.S. Patent Nos.:

5,290,414 entitled “Separator/Electrolyte Combination For a Nonaqueous Cell”;

7,923,138 entitled “Housing for a Sealed Electrochemical Battery Cell”;

7,968,230 entitled “High Discharge Capacity Lithium Battery”;

8,007,940 entitled “Separator/Electrolyte Combination For a Nonaqueous Cell”; and

RE41,866 entitled “Nonaqueous Electrochemical Cell with Improved Energy Density”.

Energizer claims Wahl makes, offers for sale, imports and is selling products containing the asserted patents in its Lithium Pen Trimmer.  They are seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions, treble damages and attorney fees.

 

Water Purification

Aquatech International Corp., and Debasish Mukhopadhyay v. N.A. Water Systems, LLC, and Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Support

On April 4, 2012, Aquatech filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against Water Systems and Veolia Water seeking a declaratory judgment that U.S. Patent No. 7,815,804, entitled “Method for Treating Wastewater or Produced Water” (’804 Patent), owned by N.A. Water and Veolia ( a subsidiary of N.A. Water), is invalid and unenforceable and that its products do not infringe the ’804 Patent. (Aquatech Complaint)

Aquatech is a licensee of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,925,255 entitled “Method and Apparatus for High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis Operation” and 6,537,456 entitled “Method and Apparatus for High Efficiency Reverse Osmosis Operation” (though these patents are not asserted in this complaint). 

Aquatech’s patents related to its HERO water purification process.  The HERO process uses the patents in a high efficiency reverse osmosis water purification process which is used in many industries including power generation, petrochemical, and microelectronics.  The HERO technologies have been licensed to companies such as General Electric and Intel.

Aquatech claims N.A. and Veolia have coerced and intimidated potential customers into using Veolia’s OPUS water purification process (described in the ’804 Patent) under threat of patent litigation – claiming the HERO process infringes upon the OPUS process.  Aquatech claims Veolia knew, or should have known, that the HERO process does not infringe the OPUS process and that such claims of infringement were false.

Aquatech is seeking a declaration that the HERO process does not infringe the OPUS process, that each claim of the ’804 patent is invalid, and that the ’804 Patent is unenforcable due to inequitable conduct.

Green Off-Patent Report (Powered by Cleantech PatentEdge)

April 20th, 2012

Our Green Off-Patent Report provides selected highlights of green patents which completed their 20-year term and expired within the last week or so (assuming the patentee paid all requisite maintenance fees; U.S. patents require payment of fees 3 1/2, 7 1/2, and 11 1/2 years after issuance to stay in force).

Many of the green technologies in use today are off-patent, i.e., the patents covering the technologies have run their 20-year term and expired.

Knowing which technologies are off-patent is important because those technologies are in the public domain and can be exploited by anyone.  It’s also interesting because it provides a window into what was cutting edge technology twenty years ago.

The green off-patent searching is performed by Cleantech PatentEdge™.

U.S. Patent No. 5,354,477 (Water Purification) entitled “Low Molecular Weight Amines and Amine Quaternaries for the Removal of Soluble Organics in Oil Field Produced Water.”  The patent describes a method for removing hydrocarbons from water by injecting low molecular weight amines and preferably amine quaternaries with strong acids into an oil and water mixture to remove oil based salts.  Filed April 7, 1992; issued October 11, 1994; expired April 7, 2012.

U.S. Patent No. 5,324,433 (Soil/Water Restoration) entitled “In-situ Restoration of Contaminated Soils and Groundwater.”  The patent describes a method for removing and stabilizing in-situ soluble heavy metal contaminants from soil and groundwater by injecting an aqueous solution of naturally occurring ions.  The solution solubilizes the heavy metals into solution where they can be removed.  Filed April 16, 1992; issued June 28, 1994; expired April 16, 2012.

U.S. Patent No. 5,261,970 (Photovoltaic Cells) entitled “Optoelectronic and Photovoltaic Devices with Low-Reflective Surfaces.”  The patent describes photovoltaic devices with low angle ‘V’ shaped grooves on the target surfaces.  The grooves increase the efficiency of the devices by promoting internal reflection of light from the target surface at the interface of the coverglass.”  Filed April 8, 1992; issued November 16, 1993; expired April 8, 2012.

U.S. Patent No. 5,260,588 (LEDs) entitled “Light Emitting Diode.”  The patent describes a light emitting diode formed as reverse mesas with mirrored sloping surfaces which reflect light in the direction of the light emitting diode surface, improving the efficiency of each diode.  Filed April 14, 1992; issued November 9, 1993; expired April 14, 2012.

U.S. Patent No. 5,317,979 (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction) entitled “Method and Apparatus for the Complete, Dry Desulphurization of Combustion Waste Gases Comprising SO2 and Dust.”  The patent describes a method for removing SO2 from the combustion waste gases of coal dust.  The process includes heating the gas quickly to a temperature below the sintering temperature of the fly ash, then cooling the gas to a temperature where the distance between the temperature and the dew point is low and is below 25 degrees C.  This binds the SO2 gas to the ash, cleaning it from the combustion waste gas.  Filed April 16, 1992; issueed June 7, 1994; expired April 16, 2012.

David Gibbs is a contributor to Green Patent Blog.  David is currently in his third and final year at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.  He received his undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent (and Copyright) Complaint Update

December 16th, 2011

Several green patent lawsuits (and one green copyright suit) have been filed in the last several weeks in the areas of LEDs, hybrid vehicles, wastewater treatment, energy management, and biodegradable materials.

 

LEDs

Bluestone Innovations Florida, L.L.C. v. Formosa Epitaxy

Bluestone Innovations (Bluestone), a Florida-based patent licensing company, recently filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida against Formosa Epitaxy (Formosa), a Taiwanese corporation.

Bluestone alleges that Formosa engaged in the manufacture, importation, offer for sale, and sale of LED semiconductor devices and other optoelectric devices, such as gallium nitride (GaN) LED wafers and chips, and indium gallium nitride (InGaN) LED wafers and chips.

The complaint alleges these activities infringe U.S. Patent Number 6,605,832, entitled “Semiconductor Structures Having Reduced Contact Resistance”.  Bluestone is seeking a permanent injunction and damages, including treble damages and attorney fees.

 

Wastewater Treatment

Polylok, Inc. v. Bear Onsite

A recent post discussed a suit between wastewater treatment rivals Polylok and Bear Onsite in Connecticut in which Polylok asserted infringement of U.S. Patent Number 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.

Bear Onsite recently responded with a declaratory judgment action (Petition for Declaration of Rights).  Specifically, Bear Onsite is seeking a declaratory judgment of invalidity, unenforceability and non-infringement of the ’837 Patent.

 

Hybrid Vehicles

KGR IP L.L.C. v. Ford Motor Company
KGR IP L.L.C. v. Honda Motor Company

KGR recently filed two complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (KGR_IP-Ford_Complaint; KGR_IP-Honda_Complaint). 

The complaints allege that both Ford and Honda are infringing U.S. Patent Number 6,639,614, entitled “Multi-variate data presentation method using ecologically valid stimuli” (’614 Patent).  The ’614 Patent relates to visual display of data using “ecologically valid” icons.

KGR alleges infringement of the ’614 Patent in the Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicles and Honda vehicles that utilize the Eco Assist function.  KGR is seeking injunctive relief and damages.

 

Fernandez v. Toyota Motor Corporation

Dennis Fernandez, an individual inventor, recently filed a Complaint against Toyota Motor Corporation, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A and Toyota USA (collectively “Toyota”), alleging patent infringement.
Fernandez alleges Toyota is infringing U.S. Patent Numbers 7,374,003, 7,575,080, and 7,980,341, each entitled “Telematic Method and Apparatus with Integrated Power Source”.

The complaint states that Toyota is using the accused devices in its Prius II hybrid vehicle. The complaint seeks damages and attorney fees.

 

Biomaterials; Recycling & Waste Management

Frito-Lay North America v. Innovia Films Limited

Frito-Lay filed a Complaint against Innovia Films, Inc. (Innovia), a manuafcturer of bio-based films, on November 23, 2011 seeking declaratory relief over Frito-Lay’s ownership of two patents and two patent applications.

The complaint relates to recent actions commenced by Innovia against Frito-Lay in both the U.K. and Europe.  In that litigation, Innovia claims that Frito-Lay breached a confidentiality agreement and used information gained during confidential meetings to develop biodegradable packaging.  Innovia claims the technology led to Frito-Lay’s U.S. Patent Numbers 7,951,436 and 7,943,218 and U.S. Patent Applications 11/848,775 and 12/716,033.

Frito-Lay contends that it did not acquire any technology from Innovia and that development of its degradable bags was conducted independently.  Frito-Lay states that its “scientists and engineers discovered and invented novel flexible film packaging that maintains certain barrier properties and is made up of several layers of films, including a biodegradable ‘bio-based’ layer.”

 

Smart Grid / Energy Management

Opower, Inc. v. Efficiency 2.0, LLC

In a rare clean tech copyright dispute, Opower, Inc. (Opower) recently filed a copyright infringement Suit against Efficiency 2.0, LLC (Efficiency 2.0), a New York energy efficiency software company.

Opower produces Home Energy Reports, paper reports mailed to residents which show their home energy consumption in relation to similarly situated neighbors.  Opower’s Home Energy Reports were registered with the Copyright Office in September 2009 as Registration No. VA0001692228 and in October 2011 as Registration No. TX0007435604.

According to the complaint, Efficiency 2.0′s Energy Savings Reports are nearly identical to Opower’s copyrighted reports.  Opower claims the similarities include “overall layout and blocking, use of open space, use of language, use of font, bolding, accents and color, as well as selection and presentation of specific graphics and information.”

Opower is seeking damages, and a preliminary and permanent injunction barring Efficiency 2.0 from using Opower’s copyrighted reports.

David Gibbs is a contributor to Green Patent Blog.  David is currently in his third and final year at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.  He received his undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 16th, 2011

Several new green patent complaints have been filed recently in the areas of biofuels, smart grid, LEDs, solar manufacturing materials, and waste water treatment.  Here’s a run down:

 

Biofuels

Butamax Advanced Biofuels v. Gevo

The complaint (Butamax-Gevo_DJComplaint) was filed August 9, 2011 in the District of Delaware.

Butamax, a joint venture between BP and DuPont, accuses Gevo of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,993,889, entitled “Fermentive production of four carbon alcohols,” and directed to methods for producing isobutanol by fermentive growth of a recombinant yeast microorganism.

This is the second patent infringement suit filed by Butamax against Gevo.  I covered the first complaint here.

 

Smart Grid

Nxegen v. Sensus USA

The complaint (Nxegen-Complaint) was filed July 29, 2011 in the District of Connecticut.

Nxegen asserts two related patents against Sensus, U.S. Patents Nos. 6,633,823 and 7,135,956, entitled “System and method for monitoring and controlling energy use” and directed to systems and methods for monitoring and controlling power use among a number of facilities to reduce a real-time aggregate power load across the facilities.

The accused products include the FlexNet Advanced Metering re Infrastructure (AMI) solution.

 

IP Co. (Intus IQ) v. Ingersoll-Rand et al.

The complaint (Intus-Ingersoll_Complaint) was filed August 25, 2011 in the Eastern District of Texas.

Intus asserts two related patents, U.S. Patents Nos. 6,044,062 and 6,249,516, entitled “Wireless network gateway and method for providing same,” and directed to certain wireless network systems having a server providing a gateway between two networks.

The other named defendants are Schlage Lock Company, Trane and Schneider Electric

Intus is a patent licensing company and appears to b e related to Sipco, which has been a patent enforcement spree, including suits against utilities, smart meter companies, and EV charging companies.

 

ICH Intellectual Capital Holdings v. Badger Meter et al.

The complaint, filed September 8, 2011 in the Eastern District of Texas, accuses a host of smart meter players of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,248,181, entitled “Automated meter reading system” and directed to an automated meter reading system adapted to facilitate readings by an operator walking or driving close to the system at a low power level and at a frequency in an unlicensed frequency band.

The other named defendants are Mueller Water Products, Transparent Technologies, Metron-Farnier, Tantalus, ESCO Technologies, Aclara Power-Line Systems, Landis+Gyr, Trilliant, Tropos, and the City of Winnsboro, Texas.

ICH appears to be a non-practicing patentee.

 

LEDs

SemiLEDS v. Cree

The complaint (SemiLEDS-Complaint) was filed August 15, 2011 in the District of Delaware.

SemiLEDS accuses Cree of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,615,789, entitled “Vertical light emitting diode device structure” and directed to a vertical light-emitting diode structure utilizing a spacer to separate the p-doped layer from the active layer and U.S. Patent No. 7,646,033, entitled “Systems and methods for producing white-light emitting diodes” and directed to a vertical light-emitting diode structure having a wafer level phosphor layer parallel to a gallium nitride layer.

In the increasingly common tit-for-tat LED patent litigation wars, SemiLEDS fights back here after being sued by Cree in April for alleged infringement of “flip-chip” mounted LEDs.

 

Waste Management / Water Filtration

Salsnes Filter v. M2 Renewables

The complaint (Salsnes-Complaint) was filed August 18, 2011 in the Central District of California.

Salsnes asserts U.S. Patent No. 6,942,786, entitled “Cleaning device for waste water” and directed to a waste water cleaning device having an endless filtering belt and a blowoff device to remove contamination from the belt.

The named defendants are M2 Renewables and Nepsus Environmental, and the accused devices are the M2 Microscreen and Nepsus CBUM Process at the Adelanto, California waste water treatment plant and the M2 Microscreen at the ProLogis-Fontana, California Kaiser Steel waste water treatment plant.

 

Solar

du Pont v. Heraeus

The complaint (DuPont-Heraeus_Complaint), filed September 2, 2011 in the District of Delaware, asserts U.S. Patent No. 7,767,254, entitled “Paste for solar cell electrode and solar cell” and directed to a method of making an electrode for a solar cell by applying a conductive paste comprising silver particles.

du Pont alleges that Heraeus’s manufacture and use of its H94XX and H92XX series of pastes infringes the ’254 Patent.

Rotary Clubbed: Siemens Hit with Water Filter Patent Suit

June 28th, 2011

 

Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies Support (VWS), a subsidiary of Veolia Water, is a French water and wastewater treatment company.   VWS owns U.S. Patent No. 7,507,805 (’805 Patent), which relates to rotary disk filter technology.

VWS recently sued Siemens Industry (Siemens) for patent infringement in the Eastern District of North Carolina, accusing its German competitor of infringing the ’805 Patent.

According to the complaint (Veolia-Complaint), Siemens’ Forty-X disk filter product infringes claims 1 and 16 of the ’805 Patent.

The ’805 Patent is directed to a rotary disk filter having a modular construction.  The rotary disk filter (1) has a rotating drum (2) that includes a plurality of disk-shaped filter members (3). 

The lateral faces of the filter members support a filter cloth (4), which traps particles in the liquid being filtered.

A filter support (11) extends radially outwards from the center of the drum and forms filter segments or modules (13).  The modules, as shown in Figure 4 below, have an intermediate support portion (15) and two outer support portions (16) extending from the intermediate support portion.

Two inner support portions (17) extend from the other end of the intermediate support portion (15), which has a framework construction (18) with hollow spaces (19).  Openings (20) in the inner support portions (17) allow the liquid to be filtered to pass from the interior of the drum (2).

According to the ’805 Patent, the modular filter design and support structure provide a lighter filter with higher filtering capacity at a lower manufacturing cost.

The rotary disk filters at issue in this case are used for a variety of applications including tertiary filtration, water reuse, and process water filtration.