BALTIMORE--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Paice, a pioneer in the development of hybrid vehicle technology, announced today that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has instituted a formal investigation into patent infringement claims against Ford Motor Co. If Paice prevails, all imports of Ford’s infringing hybrid cars (including the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ models) would be banned from entering the United States.
“Our engineers spent years sharing technical details about our patented hybrid technology with Ford in good faith - that faith was misplaced.”
Paice and the Abell Foundation filed a complaint in February 2017 asking the ITC to prohibit Ford from importing hybrid vehicles it manufactures abroad. While Ford claims to support President Trump’s initiative to “buy American and hire American” and announced earlier this year that it was scrapping plans to build a new, fourth plant in Mexico, Ford continues to manufacture many of its hybrid vehicles in Mexico.
The Paice/Ford Relationship
Ford’s senior management, including Chairman Bill Ford, Jr., supported Ford’s initial foray into the hybrid market and encouraged Ford’s collaboration with Paice. That support initiated a four-year relationship between Paice and Ford from 1999 to 2004 during which Paice interacted with more than a dozen Ford executives and engineers. Paice even performed detailed modeling and component design work for Ford on the belief that the companies would come to a business agreement.
“We trusted Ford,” said Paice CEO Robert Oswald. “Our engineers spent years sharing technical details about our patented hybrid technology with Ford in good faith - that faith was misplaced.”
In the end, Ford declined to take a license from Paice. Tellingly, Ford licensed Toyota’s hybrid technology, and Toyota later took a global license for all of Paice’s patented technology. Paice currently has license agreements with Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and other automakers who collectively account for 70% of all hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S.
In 2015, Ford announced plans to introduce 13 new electrified vehicles by 2020 as part of a $4.5 billion investment. After years of trying to negotiate a licensing agreement with Ford, Paice filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Ford in U.S. District Court in 2014. While other carmakers have seen the wisdom of licensing Paice’s patents, Ford has chosen a different path. It filed 25 petitions before the U.S. Patent Office challenging the patents, and delayed the case in federal court. Despite Ford’s efforts, Paice has many claims that remain valid, meaning the dispute will progress to a resolution.
Paice believes Ford needs a license to continue using Paice’s patented hybrid technology. Paice has now turned to the ITC to hold Ford accountable.
About Paice (www.paicehybrid.com)
Dr. Alex Severinsky, a Russian immigrant, founded Paice in 1992 with the support of the University of Maryland. Paice made its mark in the hybrid industry by discovering new ways to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions without sacrificing driving performance. Paice presented its hybrid breakthroughs alongside Toyota and Ford at industry conferences and before the U.S. Senate. To date, Paice has been awarded 30 U.S. and foreign patents, including four of the world’s most influential hybrid patents according to an independent study.
About The Abell Foundation (www.abell.org)
The Abell Foundation, a Baltimore-based charitable organization dedicated to fighting urban poverty and promoting social objectives by investing in progressive local start-ups, is a co-owner of the Paice patents and a co-complainant in the ITC filing. Since 1999, Abell has helped support Paice’s efforts to develop and promote its hybrid technology.