Volkswagen and the High-Tech Greenwash

October 27th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

VW Logo

By now the Volkswagen emissions scandal has been widely reported and analyzed, and the consequences the German carmaker will face for using software to cheat on emissions tests will be determined, at least in part, by a mass of lawyers.

What interests me is how Volkswagen’s actions fit into the broader context of greenwashing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that Volkswagen intentionally programmed a number of its diesel vehicles to activate emissions controls only during testing.  The vehicles’ software allowed the nitrogen oxide (NOx) output to satisfy U.S. emissions standards during testing while producing much higher emissions during actual driving conditions.

In one sense, this comports with a theme we’ve encountered before in greenwashing, i.e., a product’s real-world performance does not live up to its testing results.

The most common example is the charge that a car’s actual gas mileage is considerably lower than the EPA’s fuel efficiency estimates.  These allegations have been made against Ford, Toyota, and Honda (see previous posts here, here, and here).

A variation on this theme is the allegation that the testing protocols themselves are flawed, e.g., in lawsuits against Hyundai and Kia about supposedly overstated fuel economy figures due to testing methods that were not compliant with EPA requirements.

But just as troubling as the result of the deception (actual NOx output being considerably greater than the tested output) is Volkswagen’s method of deception.

This seems be part of a new trend of technological greenwashing.  Rather than making false or misleading statements in ads and other marketing materials, or providing express statements of inflated numbers, this new form of greenwashing uses technology to deceive.

We’ve seen technological greenwashing at least once before in a lawsuit accusing Ford of claiming that a software update for the Fusion Hybrid would increase performance and mileage (see previous post here).  According to the plaintiff, the car’s monitor displayed better mileage and less gas usage after the upgrade but the numbers were inaccurate and the vehicle’s actual mileage did not improve.

This Volkswagen high-tech greenwash is more insidious because the entire deception is cloaked in technology; there isn’t even an affirmative misleading display as in the Ford case, so government agencies and consumers might have no idea there are any representations being made.

This probably is not the last we’ll see of the high-tech greenwash.

Big Win for Paice as Jury Finds Hyundai and Kia Owe $28.9 Million

October 20th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

l_paice

Back in 2012, hybrid vechicle technology company Paice filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia in federal court in Baltimore accusing the Korean automakers of infringing three of its patents.

The patents-in-suit were U.S. Patent Nos. 7,237,634, 7,104,347, and 7,559,388.  All three patents are entitled “Hybrid vehicles” and cover hybrid electric vehicles utilizing an internal combustion engine with series parallel electric motors, regenerative braking, and control circuitry.

The Paice technology is called the Hyperdrive System and provides seamless switching between power from an electric motor and an internal combustion engine.

Recently, a Maryland federal jury returned a big verdict for Paice, deciding that Hyundai and Kia owe $28.9 million in damages for patent infringement.  The jury found that all of the asserted claims of the patents were valid and willfully infringed (see the report here on Autoblog and by Bloomberg news here).

The trial lasted eight days, but the jury needed just one day of deliberations to reach a verdict.

According to Paice’s press release, the $28.9 million sum represents a payment of $200 for each infringing hybrid vehicle sold by the defendants through June 30, 2015.  The cars at issue were the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid.

Paice has successfully enforced its patents before, most notably licensing its hybrid technology to Toyota, which signed a global licensing deal in 2010 covering all of Paice’s technology.

Hyundai and Kia are likely to appeal the decision.

FTC Proactive and Preemptive on Green Certifications

October 13th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

ftc_logo_430

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), America’s consumer watchdog agency, has historically been ahead of the curve on greenwashing.

In 1992, it first published its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, commonly know as the Green Guides, which provide a framework for green marketers to formulate permissible environmental benefit claims for products and services.

Since then, the agency has been actively pursuing greenwashers, with an aggressive campaign in the 1990s against deceptive environmental marketing claims including enforcement actions targeting ads for plastic grocery bags, aerosol cleaning and beauty products, packaging and tableware products, laundry detergents, and disposable diapers.

More recently, the FTC has occasionally taken alleged greenwashers to court; it brought a recent action for misleading environmental benefit claims against an LED manufacturer.

So it comes as no surprise that the agency would be proactive in the area of green certification seals.  Recently, the FTC sent warning letters to five providers of such seals and 32 businesses using those seals.

Certification seals, or marks, are a special species of trademark.  Unlike ordinary trademarks, which indicate the commercial source of a product, certification marks communicate to the consumer that the products to which they are affixed meet certain manufacturing or quality standards.

Examples of popular certification marks are the LEED certification, owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and Energy Star, owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Energy Star

This preemptive move consisted of the letters, which alerted the providers and businesses that the certification seals at issue could be considered deceptive and may not comply with the Green Guides.

The FTC announced the warning letters last month, but noted that it was not conducting any enforcement actions at this time.  The FTC did not disclose the names of the companies to which it sent the letters.

The press release provides examples of two hypothetical green seals, potentially deceptive on the right and not deceptive on the left:

sample-green-seal_525

The press release also mentions the agency’s new blog, Performing Seals, which helps marketers understand how certification seals can comply with the Green Guides.

Book Review: The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology by Kelly Sims Gallagher

October 6th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

Gallagher book

The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology:  Lessons from China is a thoroughly researched and well-written book and an important contribution to the subject of clean tech innovation.

Five years in the making, Kelly Sims Gallagher’s book uses case studies of four clean energy industries (gas turbines, solar PV, coal gasification, and advanced batteries) in China to learn lessons about international technology transfer.

To guide her research, Gallagher asked these questions:

Which barriers most inhibit the global diffusion of cleaner and more efficient energy technologies?

Which incentives or conditions are necessary to motivate the global diffusion of these technologies?

Through dozens of interviews with individuals in firms, academic experts, and government officials, as well as focus groups, patent analysis, and comparative policy analysis, the book does much to uncover which commercial and policy factors have positive or negative effects on the clean energy industries examined.

I particularly like the organization of the book.  After an introduction and a chapter on China’s energy and environmental policies and innovation system, Chapter 3 presents the case studies as “complete stories” and introduces barriers and incentives to global diffusion of clean technologies.

The case studies represented both “successful” (solar PV) and “failed” (gas turbines) technology transfer and some mixed results (advanced batteries for vehicles and coal gasification).

Subsequent chapters provide detailed analysis of three of the most critical actual or perceived barriers – policy, intellectual property, and cost/finance.

The conclusions Gallagher draws are that national market-formation policies and access to capital are the most important factors needed for global diffusion of clean technologies.

Intellectual property is not generally found to be an impediment to clean tech innovation and transfer:

One set of barriers/incentives that this research does not find significant for the cross-border diffusion of cleaner energy technologies is access to or infringement of intellectual property.

However, there have been some refusals to license, including Toyota HEV patents:

The Chinese have not been able to obtain licenses from Toyota for hybrid-electric technology, and they further think there is no room for Chinese innovation because the Japanese firms have defensively patented the entire space.

But even this may be a blessing in disguise as the Chinese may be leapfrogging to EVs.

One refreshing thing about this book is that Gallagher has no apparent agenda (a marked departure from some literature on the subject).  She writes in the mold of some of the economists who have studied the effects of patents on clean tech such as John H. Barton.  The book is empirically focused; Gallagher wants to find the facts and get to the bottom of it.

And get to the bottom of it Gallagher does.  She finds “widespread agreement that the most important incentive is national-level, market-formation policies.”

The Chinese and foreign experts she interviewed agree that such incentives have encouraged cross-border transfer of the four clean technologies studied – policies including clear targets over time, lack of significant barriers to trade and foreign direct investment, strong innovation policy, stable market-formation policy, and strong export promotion policy.

An extra feature, and another reason to buy this book, is the nearly comprehensive list of case studies on clean tech transfer in Appendix B.

In conclusion, Gallagher’s book is a major contribution to the clean tech innovation literature.  She explains the nature of the contribution concisely:

One of this book’s contributions is to clarify which barriers and incentives for the global diffusion of cleaner energy technologies are most important in the Chinese context, and, ideally, more generally.

More RIN Fraud Greenwashers Head to Prison

September 29th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

It was just a few months ago that a blog post reported a criminal defendant pleaded guilty to selling fraudulent renewable identification numbers (RINs).

It has happened again, with recent prison sentences for four individuals in Florida who also pleaded guilty to charges related to a scheme involving false production of biodiesel RINs.

According to this article in a Florida online newspaper, court documents had accused the defendants of profiting by unjustly generating and selling RINs and unjustly claiming biodiesel tax credits for the production and blending of fuel that was not actually biodiesel.

More particularly, as employees and officers of New Energy Fuels LLC, the defendants claimed to process animal fats and vegetable oils into biodiesel.  However, what they actually did was perform minimal processing on low-grade feedstocks to produce a low-grade fuel that was not biodiesel.

They would represent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they had produced biodiesel, generate fraudulent biodiesel RINs, and sell the fake RINs to third parties.  In total, the defendants sold over $15 million in fraudulent RINs.

The defendants also made false claims to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to get biodiesel tax credits.

As I’ve said before, I believe this type of fraudulent activity is greenwashing.  The fraud and resulting damage are recognizable when we view the putative RIN purchasers as green consumers, albeit commercial consumers instead of individuals, falling victim to false representations about the validity of renewable energy-based financial products.

The Acting Special Agent of the EPA in charge of the investigation (together with officials from the Dep’t of Justice and IRS echoed this sentiment, speaking to the purpose of RINs and the consequences of such fraudulent activity:

“The Renewable Fuel Standard helps reduce the climate impact of transportation fuel sold in this country.  The criminal activity by these defendants has real consequences.  The defendants manipulated and utilized federal governmental programs to line their pockets by fraud….Companies and managers need to understand there are serious consequences to skirting the rules and undermining the integrity of an EPA program.”

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

September 22nd, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

Several new green patent complaints were filed in July and August in the areas of LEDs, smart grid, and water meters.

But before we get to that, a significant green patent case settled during this period.  Colorado-based Gevo and BP-DuPont joint venture Butamax announced that they entered into worldwide patent cross-license and settlement agreements.

The deal ends a massive patent dispute that began back in early 2011 and grew to comprise at least 17 lawsuits and 14 patents relating to methods of producing biobutanol.

The agreement grants both parties patent licenses to all fields for isobutanol and includes a combination of royalty-bearing and royalty-free fields for both parties.  According to this piece from Biofuels Digest, it seems the core of the deal is that Butamax will take the lead in the on-road gasoline market and Gevo gets the jet fuel market.

The litigation was notable both for its size and as the first foray of big oil into biofuels patent lawsuits.

 

LEDs

Feit Electric Company, Inc. v. Cree, Inc.

After Cree sued Feit for alleged infringement of 10 patents back in January, Feit fired back with this lawsuit filed July 7, 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

The complaint accuses Cree of infringing two related U.S. Patent Nos. 8,408,748 and 9,016,901, both entitled “LED lamp replacement of low power incandescent lamp” (LED Lamp Patents).

The LED Lamp Patents are directed to LED light bulbs for replacing incandescents.  The LED lamp has an elevated light source positioned above a screw-type base and two groups of LEDs connected in series with each LED mounted proximate a heat sink.

The accused products are Cree’s 4Flow LED lamps.

 

Koninklijke Philips N.V. et al. v. Amerlux LLC et al.

Philips has filed another patent infringement lawsuit, asserting six LED lighting patents against New Jersey lighting company Amerlux.  The complaint was filed August 5, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,094,014, entitled “Circuit arrangement, and signaling light provided with the circuit arrangement”

U.S. Patent No. 6,250,774, entitled “Luminaire”

U.S. Patent No. 6,577,512, entitled “Power supply for LEDs”

U.S. Patent No. 7,038,399, entitled “Methods and apparatus for providing power to lighting devices”

U.S. Patent No. 7,262,559, entitled “LEDs driver”

U.S. Patent No. 8,220,958, entitled “Light-beam shaper”

Philips alleges that a host of Amerlux products infringe one or more of the asserted patents, including accent display lighting products, task lighting products, wall wash and grazer lighting products, shelf lighting products, downlights, pendants, outdoor lighting products, and other luminaire-type lighting products.

 

Smart Grid

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Redpine Signals, Inc.

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Atmel Corporation

Endeavor MeshTech (a wholly-owned subsidiary of patent monetization firm Endeavor IP) continued its patent enforcement campaign, filing two more lawsuits in July and August.

The first was filed against Redpine in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 1, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Redpine), the second against Atmel in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on July 6, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. ATMEL).

The two complaints accuse Redpine and Atmel, respectively, of infringing three patents in a family – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,379,981 (‘981 Patent),  8,700,749 (‘749 Patent), and 8,855,019 (‘019 Patent), each entitled “Wireless communication enabled meter and network.”

The patents-in-suit relate to a self-configuring wireless network including a number of vnodes and VGATES.

The accused products are Redpine’s n-Link, Connect-io-n, WiSeConnect, M2MCombo, SmartCombo, NetCombo and WinergyNet products and Atmel’s products sold under the brand names ZigBit, SmartConnect, BitCloud, and SMART.

 

Regen Energy Inc. v. eCurv Inc. 

On August 19, 2015 Regen Energy, a Canadian corporation with operations in San Marcos, California, sued Massachusetts-based eCurv for alleged infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,918,223 (‘223 Patent) and 9,110,647 (‘647 Patent).

The ‘223 and ‘647 Patents are related patents entitled, respectively “Apparatus for managing an energy consuming load” and “Method and apparatus for managing an energy consuming load.”  They are directed to energy management systems and methods that generate load state data from energy consuming loads, make enablement state decisions for the loads using the load state data, and implement the enablement state decisions.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, the complaint alleges that eCurv’s QPAC line of energy management software and related products infringe the ‘223 and ‘647 Patents.

 

Water Meters

Green4All Energy Solutions, Inc. v. Flow Dynamics, LLC et al.

In this action for tortious interference, unfair competition and declaratory judgment, Chicago-based Green4All requests that the court declare Flow Dynamics’ U.S. Patent No. 8,707,981 (‘981 Patent) invalid.

The ‘981 Patent is entitled “System for increasing the efficiency of a water meter” and directed to a valve assembly that increases the efficiency of an upstream water meter by removing entrained water bubbles from the water supply.

Filed August 5, 2015 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint alleges that Flow Dynamics’ prior filed patent infringement suit against Green4All (reported here) is without merit and the ‘981 Patent should be declared not infringed and invalid.

Guest Post: UK Court Invalidates Enercon Patent, But is this the End?

September 15th, 2015 by Philip Totaro* No comments »

A decision by the High Court of Justice in the UK has handed Enercon a blow in the enforcement of their patent related to power ramp down after the cut out wind speed (EP0847496).

Enercon first filed their patent in 1995 in Germany and has been commercially offering their ‘Storm Control’ technology on their own turbines for many years since. An image representing the power output control strategy is taken from the Enercon patent.

Totaro FIG. 1

In invalidating the Enercon patent, the UK court seems to have taken an interesting interpretation of a paper from E.A. Bossanyi published in 1982 which dealt with an evaluation of performance the Boeing built MOD-2 wind turbine which was contracted by NASA and erected in 1980. Essentially, the Bossanyi paper contemplates a method for power ramp-down specially adapted to the variable speed, constant frequency (VSCF) MOD-2 wind turbine.

Siemens relied upon expert testimony in arguing that this approach could be applied to variable speed, variable pitch (VSVP) machines being developed around the time of the Enercon patent filing. The UK court agreed.

Totaro FIG. 1

Siemens also referenced a 1980 patent filing by Toshiba in their attempt to invalidate the Enercon patent. The Toshiba patent describes technology which ramps down after the ‘conventional’ cut-out wind speed, but does not ramp all the way down to null output power. Nevertheless, the UK court did not favor the Siemens interpretation of the Toshiba patent that it teaches what Enercon claimed in their own very similar patent.

totaro fig. 3

Open Opposition

Interestingly, Vestas had previously filed an opposition against the European version of the Enercon patent in a timeframe that would have allowed them to present new prior art. However, their opposition was rejected in November 2002 without citing either the Toshiba patent or the Bossanyi paper.

Nevertheless, a new opposition period against the Enercon patent filing was made possible as of January 2015 based upon an amendment to the Enercon patent triggered by the UK court matter. The prior art references and precedent set in the UK will likely influence a decision by the European Patent Office (EPO) on the validity of the Enercon patent.

However, invalidity of the European patent is not for certain and Enercon still has the opportunity to appeal the UK ruling. The European Patent Office does not have to accept the same conclusion as the UK court, so it will be very noteworthy if the European Patent Office takes the same approach regarding the Bossanyi reference in their review of the amended Enercon patent.

Since Enercon is likely to appeal the UK ruling, the Siemens matter is far from over yet.

Gamesa Litigation

This European patent filing from Enercon serves as the parent to both the UK as well as the Spanish patent which is the subject of the ongoing litigation with Gamesa. The precedent set in the UK is likely to have repercussions on the litigation in Spain if the UK court position on invalidity holds.

An invalidation of the European patent would likely negate the damage award against Gamesa in Spain, but there is still potentially room for Enercon to argue their position here, so the outcome is not guaranteed for anyone involved either.

In the meantime, Gamesa should at least be able to leverage off the non-infringement arguments in their appeal in the Spanish court.

New Precedent

The UK court potentially establishes another interesting precedent here, because there are certainly other patents held by companies in the wind industry which attempt to deal with component loading and fatigue which could also potentially be argued as obvious in light of the UK court’s interpretation of the technology developed for VSCF being applicable to VSVP based turbines.

The UK court judge refers to adjustment of the torque and pitch control “knobs” as a means to control generator rotor rpm as an obvious method in light of the Bossanyi paper, but also acknowledges other methods of implementing such technology:

…it required no inventive activity at all for a skilled person given Bossanyi in 1995 to think seriously about how to implement the power ramp down proposal in VSVP turbines.  They would consider how to put that into practice and, in terms of controls, it was obvious to think about “turning” the electric torque “knob” and the pitch control “knob”.  Reducing rotor speed as the wind speed increased as a way of reducing power accordingly is not the only way of putting Bossanyi into practice but it is an obvious approach.  Reducing the speed this way has an obvious advantage in terms of loading and fatigue.

Final Thoughts

Over the past 10 years we have seen Enercon attempt to enforce patents on frequency and voltage regulation against Vestas unsuccessfully, with the result being an invalidation in Ireland and the UK. We have also seen MHI successfully challenge the validity of the GE zero voltage ride-through patent in the US leading to an overturning of the $169M judgement and a settlement of their other ongoing litigation matters.

The past history of the wind industry’s capitulation to licenses is likely at an end as companies arm themselves with information to defend against the onslaught of IP challenges they face. This new level of intelligence gained as well as a better understanding of the commercial implications of IP infringement risks are providing companies with the opportunity to invalidate competitor patents with greater rigor and frequency than ever before in the industry’s history.

The implications of all these proceedings introduces some potentially substantial commercial risks into the project development process. Now that companies are willing to target the turbine OEMs, project developers and even the EPC contractors for patent infringement liability, the proactive companies are already arming themselves with information to ensure they can proceed smoothly.

 

*Philip Totaro is the CEO of Totaro & Associates, a consulting firm focused on innovation strategy, competitive intelligence, product development and patent search.  To find out more, or get in touch please visit www.totaro-associates.com.  Totaro & Associates delivers Innovative Solutions Enabled by Intelligence™.

August 2nd, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

 

 

Green Patent Blog is on vacation.



 

 

 

Proposed Eco-mark Succumbs to Genericness as SUSTAINABLE WATER Proves Unsustainable

July 27th, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

I’ve regularly reported on the struggles faced by clean tech manufacturers and service providers seeking to protect and enforce descriptive eco-marks (including my own marks).

One can’t register or otherwise protect a mark that is merely descriptive (i.e., it immediately conveys to consumers the nature of the goods or services) because that would restrict competitors from conveying information about their goods or services.

Mere descriptiveness has killed many eco-marks over the last several years, such as ECODIESEL, MOTIONPOWER, SOLARWINDOW, and HYBRID GREEN.

However, a descriptive mark can be protected if the applicant demonstrates that the mark has acquired distinctiveness, or secondary meaning, i.e., the mark has become sufficiently distinctive through use so consumers have come to recognize it as a source identifier for the goods or services.  Such a mark is not merely descriptive.

Generic terms, on the other hand, can never be protected.  There is no such thing as a generic mark; a generic term cannot function as a trademark.

A recent decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Board) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) highlights the genericness analysis in the context of green technology.

In re Aquei Technologies LLC involves Aquei’s application to register the proposed mark SUSTAINABLE WATER for “sustainable on-site water recycling and wastewater treatment services.”  The trademark examining attorney in the USPTO refused registration on the ground that the mark is generic.

Aquei appealed, and the Board affirmed.  To determine whether a term is generic requires a two-step inquiry:  first, the Board looks at what is the genus of goods or services at issue; second, the Board asks whether the term sought to be registered is understood by the relevant public to refer to that genus of goods and services.

The Board found the genus of services at issue was accurately stated by Aquei’s recitation of services, i.e., “sustainable on-site water recycling and wastewater treatment services.”

Based on Aquei’s web site describing its business as “water reclamation and reuse” to make “water” supplies “sustainable,” articles such as one about “The Science of Sustainable Water,” and other players’ in Aquei’s field use of the term “Sustainable Water” in their trade names including an industry alliance called the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Coalition, the Board found the term names the central focus or key aspect of Aquei’s services:

The evidence reveals that the term “Sustainable Water” directly names the most important or central aspect or purpose of Applicant’s services, which are treating, recycling and reusing water.

The Board went on to find that the components “SUSTAINABLE” and “WATER” are independently generic and remain generic when combined:

 “Sustainable Water” is nothing more than the sum of its two generic parts and “the entire formulation does not add any meaning to the otherwise generic mark.”  The generic components produce a generic composite and signify nothing more than services focused ultimately on the production of “sustainable water” as that term is ordinarily and commonly used by the public and others in the industry.

Accordingly, the Board held SUSTAINABLE WATER to be generic and unprotectable:

Hence, the term sought to be registered is understood by the relevant public primarily to refer to that genus of services, the term is generic, and should be freely available for use by competitors.

Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

July 21st, 2015 by Eric Lane No comments »

Several new green patent complaints were filed in May and June in the areas of LEDs, smart grid, and solar power including solar mounting systems and solar powered lanterns.

 

LEDs

Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. iGuzzini Lighting USA, Ltd. et al.

On May 22, 2015, Philips sued iGuzzini for infringement of five patents relating to LEDs and LED lighting devices.  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New York.  The patents-in-suit are:

U.S. Patent No. 6,094,014, entitled “Circuit arrangement, and signaling light provided with the circuit arrangement”

U.S. Patent No. 6,250,774, entitled “Luminaire”

U.S. Patent No. 6,577,512, entitled “Power supply for LEDs”

U.S. Patent No. 6,586,890, entitled “LED driver circuit with PWM output”

U.S. Patent No. 7,802,902, entitled “LED lighting fixtures”

The accused products are iGuzzini’s Laser Blade, Primopiano-LED, Woody LED, and Palco LED lines.

 

Lynk Labs, Inc. v. Juno Lighting LLC et al.

Illinois-based Lynk Labs recently sued Juno Lighting for patent infringement, correction of inventorship, and breach of contract.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,531,118, entitled “AC light emitting diode and AC LED drive methods and apparatus”(‘118 Patent) and 8,841,855, entitled “LED circuits and assemblies” (‘855 Patent).

Lynk Labs also has requested that the court correct the inventorship of Juno’s U.S. Patent No. 7,909,499, entitled “LED track lighting module” and U.S. Design Patent No. D579,144, entitled “L.E.D. light source cover” to include one or more officers or employees of Lynk Labs as co-inventors.

Finally, Lynk Labs alleges that Juno breached a 2006 Non-disclosure Agreement between the parties.

 

Smart Grid

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Nexgrid, LLC

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Freewave Technologies, Inc.

Endeavor MeshTech, Inc. v. Zenner Performance Meters, Inc.

Endeavor MeshTech (a wholly-owned subsidiary of patent monetization firm Endeavor IP) continued its patent enforcement campaign, filing three more lawsuits in May and June.

The first was filed against Nexgrid in federal court in Richmond, Virginia on May 5, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Nexgrid), the second against Freewave Technologies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on June 16, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Freewave), and the third against Zenner Performance Meters in federal court in Marshall, Texas on June 23, 2015 (Endeavor Meshtech v. Zenner).

The first two complaints accuse each Nexgrid and Freewave, respectively, of infringing three patents in a family – U.S. Patent Nos. 7,379,981 (‘981 Patent),  8,700,749 (‘749 Patent), and 8,855,019 (‘019 Patent), each entitled “Wireless communication enabled meter and network.”  The complaint against Zenner asserts only the ‘749 and ‘019 Patents.

The patents-in-suit relate to a self-configuring wireless network including a number of vnodes and VGATES.

The accused products and services are Nexgrid products sold under the Nexgrid Technology Solutions brand name, Freewave’s Comprehensive High-Speed Wireless M2M Communications Solution sold under the WavePoint brand name, and Zenner’s Stealth and MeshPlus branded products and services.

 

Solar Power

D Three Enterprises, LLC v. Sunmodo Corporation

D Three Enterprises, LLC v. Rillito River Solar LLC

On June 2, 2015 D Three filed two patent infringement suits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

In the first (D Three Enterprises v. Sunmodo), D Three accuses Sunmodo of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 8,689,517 (‘517 Patent) and 8,707,655 (‘655 Patent), both relating to involving sealing assemblies for roof-mounted solar panels.

The ‘517 and ‘655 Patents are related patents, each entitled “Roof mount sealing assembly” and directed to roof mount sealing assemblies that allow a user to mount rails for solar panels, signs, satellite dish or any other desired item on the roof and have the mounting location sealed against water.

The accused Sunmodo products are the EZ Mount assembly with Standoff for Shingle Roofs and the EZ Mount L-Foot Kit for Shingle Roofs.

The D Three complaint against Rillito asserts only the ‘517 Patent and alleges that Rillito’s (dba EcoFasten Solar) QuikFoot Roof Mount System with P-3-CSK Compression Post infringes the patent.

 

Allsop, Inc. v. Jetmax Ltd.

Allsop, a manufacturer of various consumer products including collapsible solar power lanterns, sued Hong Kong-based Jetmax for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,657,461 (‘461 Patent).

The ‘461 Patent is entitled “Solar-powered collapsible lighting apparatus” and directed to a solar-powered lighting apparatus having a light transmissible spherical shade coupled to a housing that receives a solar cell, a battery and at least a portion of a lighting element assembly.

Filed May 29, 2015 in federal court in Seattle, Washington, the complaint alleges that Jetmax’s Nylon Solar Hanging Lantern infringes the ‘461 Patent.