GE awarded $170mn in wind power patent case

A federal court awarded $170 million in damages to GE (NYSE: GE) in a patent-infringement lawsuit against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. According to The Wall Street Journal, the second phase of the trial will begin in a few months in Dallas, during which MHI will contend that the GE patent was invalid to begin with.

In a related development, a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. upheld a January 2010 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission that MHI did not infringe upon five GE patents for technology used in variable-speed wind turbines. GE filed a new wind turbine patent-infringement lawsuit on Feb. 11, 2010 claiming that MHI infringed upon two separate patents, one related to the base frame supporting the weight of the rotor and the other that covers a way to keep the turbine connected to the power grid even when the voltage drops.

MHI responded by filing two lawsuits and a complaint against GE in May 2010. One suit claimed that GE used illegal means to retain its clout in the U.S. market once MHI started making U.S. sales in 2006; another alleges that GE deterred customers from purchasing Mitsubishi wind turbines; and the third alleged patent infringement for variable speed wind turbines.

By José Santamarta,