Toyota seeking a U.S. court’s approval for the use of hybrid technology

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 25, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. is seeking a U.S. court’s approval for the use of technology in hybrid electric cars, including the Lexus RX 400h and Prius, after Calif.-based auto-parts firm Efficient Drivetrains Inc. asserted that its patents were infringed.

According to a July 20 federal court complaint filed by Toyota in San Jose, EDI has an exclusive license from the University of California for use of the technology, which includes the way electricity is obtained from a battery to run an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.

The complaint also stated that EDI has contended that the Toyota Hybrids infringe each of the asserted patents. EDI has also indicated its intention to enforce the patents.

"Toyota denies that," the complaint stated. Specifically, the company, which is the largest manufacturer of gasoline-electric hybrid cars in the world, sought a court ruling declaring that it did not infringe the patents. Also, the company is seeking a court declaration that the patents were invalid.

The court order would preempt a potential patent infringement lawsuit by the University of California and EDI. According to the court documents, the five patents at issue also include technology that has been invented by EDI co-founder Andy Frank regarding the methods to draw electricity to operate the electric motor and the internal combustion engine as well as to control the power output of an internal combustion engine.

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