A federal jury has ruled that South Korean carmaker- Hyundai Motor Co and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. have infringed patents related to hybrid engines. They have been asked to pay Paice LLC- a Baltimore based company $28.9 million. The suit against Hyundai and Kia was first filed in 2012 Paice and Baltimore’s Abell Foundation, a non-profit organisation that is invested in Paice.
Hyundai and Kai had put forward arguments that the patents owned by Paice LLC were invalid. On Thursday the jury rejected these arguments and found that the infringement of the patents was intentional. As a result the trial judge could increase the damage award to as much as three times the amount that has been set by the jury.
Paice LLC is a company that was set founded in 1992. It develops and patents hybrid electric power train/vehicle systems that include internal combustion engines and electric motors to automakers. Alex Severinsky- a former antitank-warfare engineer developed the technology in question. The patents at the centre of the case cover ways to control electric motors and internal combustion engines, thus they have increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions, without performance being sacrificed.
Frances Kennan chairwoman of Paice LLC commented that the trial over the hybrid engines was complex and added “the company is pleased to have Dr. Severinsky’s foundational technology recognised in the verdict”.
The complaint targeted Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid model and the Kia Optima Hybrid, these models both used the same powertrain technology. In separate statements Hyundai and Kia stated that the verdict wasn’t supported by the evidence.
Chris Hosford- a Hyundai spokesman commented “Hyundai has requested that the presiding judge enter a judgment in its favour notwithstanding the verdict, he added “Hyundai strongly believes its position and will appeal any remaining adverse findings”.
Paice is no stranger to litigation and has in the past sued and settled with Toyota Motor Corp. Currently it also has another pending suit against Ford Motor Co.
Both Hyundai and Kia are planning to appeal the decision.