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Patent Claim Could Block Import of Toyota's Hybrid Cars

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the advancing-the-useful-arts-and-sciences dept.

Patents 451

JynxMe writes "Paice is a tiny Florida company that has patented a way to apply force to a car's wheels from an electric motor or internal combustion engine. Paice thinks that Toyota is infringing on its technology, and is going after the automaker in court. The legal spat became much more serious for Toyota this week, when the US International Trade Commission decided to investigate the matter. In the worst-case scenario for Toyota, the commission could ban the hybrid Camry, third-generation Prius, Lexus HS250h sedan and Lexus RX450h SUV."

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451 comments

That's bright! (5, Insightful)

phocutus (670853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686081)

Now that's a productive way to encourage Electric hybrids! WTF is wrong with these morons.

Re:That's bright! (3, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686225)

Now that's a productive way to encourage Electric hybrids!

Uhhh...So you think this company, Paice, was formed in order to encourage Electric hybrids? I would assume they were formed to make money.

WTF is wrong with these morons.

If they honestly think they have a claim, then it would be absurd not to go after it. What would you have them do instead?

Re:That's bright! (5, Insightful)

JLF65 (888379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686265)

What would you have them do instead?

How about work for a living instead of patenting vague ideas and waiting for a company to make something that sort of resembles it?

Re:That's bright! (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686405)

How about work for a living instead of patenting vague ideas and waiting for a company to make something that sort of resembles it?

      Believe you me, I want to see more of these patent trolls. Keep them coming until the system breaks.

      Just like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance - not patient care or comfort, is the deciding factor in medical decisions. No one can afford to get sick without insurance in the US, and frankly not everyone can even afford the insurance. Thus, the health care system is broken, and thus - it HAS to get fixed NOW.

      Hopefully the same thing will happen with patents.

      Now don't get me started on copyrights... nah, you can download the torrent...

Re:That's bright! (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686663)

Just like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance

And you know this because the health insurance companies told you. And they would never lie, right?

Re:That's bright! (4, Insightful)

sofar (317980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686709)

Just like medical predators and ambulance chasing lawyers, I congratulate them for driving health care costs to the point where litigation avoidance - not patient care or comfort, is the deciding factor in medical decisions. No one can afford to get sick without insurance in the US, and frankly not everyone can even afford the insurance. Thus, the health care system is broken, and thus - it HAS to get fixed NOW.

What makes you assume that it will get fixed? As far as I can see, there is a significant portion of people in the government that would love to continue seeing it "broken". As a matter of fact, plenty of people will attest that US health care is not broken at all.

Personally, I don't think that "US health care" even exists.... but that's just me.

Re:That's bright! (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686815)

You do realize that the more lucrative the insurance and litigation market becomes, the more pressure the lobbyists will put on *our* congress critters to keep things the way they are, right?

It's like trying to choke an anaconda with a huge deer...those jaws are bigger than you'd expect and all you get for your trouble is a curvetoothed snake happily trapping and swallowing away your day's hunt and leaving you with nothing.

Re:That's bright! (1)

santiagodraco (1254708) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686713)

Lol, vague ideas. You are so "insightful". I think we should reform the patent system. You are not allowed to file for a patent until you've produced a fully functional model of your idea and have it fully in production and on sale. Of course anyone else who has a similar idea "in production" also has claim and your patent will be voided for prior art.

You so understand the workings of innovation JLF65. Thank you for your insights.

Re:That's bright! (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686363)

If they honestly think they have a claim, then it would be absurd not to go after it.

      Read as: It doesn't cost all that much to file a patent, let's threaten to sue and see if Toyota will settle. Even if we only make a couple hundred thousand, Toyota will be happy to have the FTC off their back, and we'll have paid our costs for incorporation, and filing this (bogus) patent.

Re:That's bright! (4, Insightful)

serbanp (139486) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686631)

Well, the issue here is that the fucked-up US PTO granted the patent in question, not that a few morons filed it. B.t.w., the filing date is May 2006, well after the second generation Prius cars hit the US market.

How can someone be granted a patent for something that is already mass-produced by someone else can be explain by either unlimited greed or stupidity or both.

Re:That's bright! (2, Interesting)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686701)

Making money is only a means to an end. Why don't the people who make up Paice engage in something more productive?

On the other hand, maybe Toyota really is doing something unique and non-obvious with hybrid propulsion and Paice can prove prior art. It could be, but in this day and age of patent trolls, i am skeptical.

Re:That's bright! (1, Troll)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686585)

This is where the president outta step in and stop the stifling of the hybrid market by null and voiding any such patents, it would be much better than cash for clunkers...and not cost us a dime. The car companies in the US and Japan could then stop suing each other and get down to designing the best hybrids, unhindered by crap like this from other car manufacturers and individuals.

Re:That's bright! (2, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686739)

The president is represented in this dispute by the US International Trade Commission, which goal is to protect US companies from (unfair, they say) foreign competition.

Stopping import is very unlikely IMHO, but we'll see - with the huge investment of your tax money into electric sports cars I wouldn't be much surprised by anything.

Re:That's bright! (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686841)

At which point companies will stop developing hybrids. Companies are developing new hybrid technologies to make money; if Toyota were to spend millions (or billions) of dollars developing a better hybrid, but then Honda could spend $30,000 at the Toyota dealer and copy it, Toyota wouldn't waste their money developing it.

Yes, but.... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686085)

The US is not the market for Toyota it once was. The reasons for selling into the US are declining with each passing year and Prius are showing up on used lots in increasing numbers, so I doubt the boys in Toyota Town will lose much sleep over this bit of news either way.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Pechkin000 (1304249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686105)

Maybe its not the market it used to be but it is still a HUGE market for Toyota and it certanly would warrant lost sleep for the boys there.

Re:Yes, but.... (4, Interesting)

dvorakkeyboardrules (1652653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686155)

Typically Toyota uses the US market to drive design improvements that they want to make and can't pay for at home via high profit margin specialty items. This is why they created the EV RAV4 way back in 1994 and the first round of PRIUS sedans when California backed off the polution requirements. Those early models were a way to pay the designers and engineers to improve the technology and get smarter without loosing buckets of money. Currently they are packing high demand US cars with extras like navigation (and solar panels starting next year) to increase the volume of the technology they want to use elsewhere on other things to drive down costs. Great smart marketing and management by them when they sucker us into paying high prices for these extras but we want the cars so we pay up and they make a lot of extra profit.......

Honda has been doing the same thing with engine technology in other products like race cars, snow blowers, ATVs and motor cycles for years. The technology and design features discovered and the factories built for one product pays for the design improvements in other places like great small cars......

C'est la vie.....

Re:Yes, but.... (1, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686577)

So they ostensibly lose a little money and 'dump' cars in to the US. Not all of us are suckered into bloated options-- and US car makers are famous for them, too. That they were able to find a market is a good thing. US Prius owners get the benefit of higher resale value for not only mpg but overall quality aids resale and ownership costs, too. Sour grapes, dude.

The remaining US automakers could learn a few lessons. Look at how well NUMMI cars continue to sell.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

sofar (317980) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686161)

well, THIS certainly is a great way to make the US market even less appealing for Toyota.

All this will accomplish is: more expensive cars, less innovation, less competition. Exactly what patents are designed to achieve.

Re:Yes, but.... (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686169)

*giggle* Couldn't they argue the patent validity based on PRIUS use?

*guffaw*

Re:Yes, but.... this is the new America (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686671)

Behold the Paice LLC company structure. No employees, management only. Also they are located at "Shady drive" street no kidding.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686291)

Right now Toyota is selling the Prius in the US about as fast as they can make them. Go talk to a dealer now and see what you have to choose from. Chances are you will need to order from the factory. As for showing up on used lots? Yes, I would expect as time passes and more new units are sold into the US, the numbers on used lots would eventually increase.

Re:Yes, but.... (5, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686333)

"The US is not the market for Toyota it once was. The reasons for selling into the US are declining with each passing year and Prius are showing up on used lots in increasing numbers"

* citation needed

I fail to understand this as Toyota outsells GM worldwide, and is within a few points in the US. Perhaps you're just seeing more Priuses (Priusi?) on used car lots because dealers are stocking what people want, and cash for clunkers took a lot of US cars out of the used car market?

The KBB of an 8 year old Prius is still around $10k. So, um... dunno what you're saying.

Citation: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686415)

* citation needed

Rush Limbaugh. Or some other dishonest idiot with a conservative agenda. Seriously, the GP is about as far from the truth as you can get.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686697)

Perhaps you're just seeing more Priuses (Priusi?)

I believe the word you were looking for was Priai.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686481)

Sales figures do not support your claim, sales are about the same on the camry and tundra, the tacoma only dropped slightly...probably due to the slightly higher tundra sales with the new bodystyle. Even in this declining market, the toyotas are selling. And just by observation, you have obviously not looked around lately. I see a lot of toyotas down here in the southern states. Many prius, tundras, tacomas, sienna vans, you name it. I think if anything the toyota sales here have increased by several magnitudes. Prius sales are down slightly 90K so far this year as apposed to 181K last yeat, but its due to the lower gas prices I think, and perhaps partially due to the other toyota hybrid offerings. Why you say? Well the best I can figure is the fact that you are almost guaranteed that a Toyota vehicle sold in the US is made in the US these days out of parts made in the US or Japan, which is kinda cool, and well it just don't make sense to buy from companies that are loosing their shirts due to bad management and have moved parts or all of the vehicle build to Canada and Mexico. And yes, I just traded my 2003 Ford F150 supercrew in on a Toyota Tundra double cab...more room, more power, better gas mileage, 6 1/2 foot bed, great price...and it was made in the new San Antonio plant. My wife has a 09 Camry that was made in Georgetown Kentucky, and before that she had a Sienna van that was made in Indiana.

Re:Yes, but.... (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686775)

Yep, Toyota trucks are great. I'm holding out for a diesel Hilux (Tacoma) in the US market.

Here is the one I want: (1)

dvorakkeyboardrules (1652653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686101)

www.commutercars.com They are custom built now, so beyond the willingness of this guy to purchase at $100k+. But, if they ever get to mass production at a price point below $20k (best guess of the company), I would likely get one. I think they have a unique approach to not only the electric vehicle but to make it "fit in" the existing infrastructure to solve the fossil fuel problem and the freeway overcrowding problem. Anyway, not an employee or owner of commuter cars; I just think they are cool.

Re:Here is the one I want: (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686217)

$100,000 Am I missing something?? I can get a Cessna for less...

Re:Here is the one I want: (2, Funny)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686251)

$100,000 Am I missing something?? I can get a Cessna for less...

This may be true, but it's a lot harder to park.

Interesting vehicle. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686257)

Won't do well in the Northeast, though. No way those tiny wheels are comfortable on the cratered mountain trails we like to call "streets."

Also.. the car weighs more than a minivan. Where do you put your knees?

Filing date (5, Informative)

glam0006 (471393) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686113)

The filing date is May 8, 2006. Really? This technology wasn't around before then?

Re:Filing date (2, Interesting)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686131)

The chain of priority goes back to 1999.

Re:Filing date (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686449)

Toyota has been making the Prius since 1997.

Diesel-Electric? (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686311)

Perhaps they did not go back far enough? Diesel-electric transmission has been around since the 1920's. From the 1960's until they electrified the line the East Coast Mainline in the UK ran Diesel-Electric trains. Of course the system is somewhat simpler than hybrid cars but the basic principle is the same: fuel runs generator and the generator charges batteries and powers electric traction motors.

Re:Diesel-Electric? (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686599)

In that case the combustion engine is only used to provide electrical to the electric motors that drive the train. This patent is for a system that allows both the combustion engine and the electric motor to apply torque to the wheels simultaneously (or independently) and charge the battery through regenerative braking. It still seems to me that the notion of a hybrid powered vehicle using a microprocessor to control power ratios would be obvious and only a specific implementation would be patentable...but I also haven't read much of the patent so maybe this one does propose an implementation.

Re:Filing date (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686507)

Exactly, how can a technology brought to market in 2001 violate a patent filed in 2006? Or, how come a patent that applies to a technology that was brought to market in 2001 be granted when it was filed in 2006?

Re:Filing date, Patent Troll (3, Interesting)

aqui (472334) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686645)

Yes and the Toyota Prius has been around since err

1997.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prius)

and it was sold worldwide since 2001 (I'm assuming that includes the US).

If the US had technology companies run by engineers and technical people rather than lawyers and accountants perhaps they would chose
"innovation" over "litigation" as a business strategy.

The sad truth is that even if someone at GM or Ford had the same idea in 1997 or earlier the bean counters and lawyers would have axed a hybrid in favour of more profitable SUVs..

If you don't believe me look at who's on the board at GM, do a search for engineer in this article: (http://www.finchannel.com/news_flash/Oil_&_Auto/43476_New_Slate_of_GM_Board_of_Directors_Members_Selected_/)
funny... almost no engineers...

VS at Daimler: (http://www.daimler.com/dccom/0-5-7158-1-65184-1-0-0-0-0-0-8-7145-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.html)
4 out of 5 on the management board have engineering backgrounds..

Hmmm.

Stealing US ideas... what ideas? The idea to sue everybody... maybe I should patent "patent troll law suits" and sue all the patent lawyers (after all it is a "business process" and a "unique" invention)...

Re:Filing date (2, Interesting)

tsotha (720379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686747)

The US has a first-to-invent standard instead of the first-to-file standard you see in some other countries. If you can show you invented something before the other guy did (which usually requires a fair amount of documentation), you can get a patent even after the invention is in general use. You can also invalidate existing patents for the same invention. Of course there are all sorts of legal caveats, but that's the gist of it. The fact that the patent application was filed in 2006 doesn't necessarily mean they can't win.

Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686117)

The welfare of the people is definitely being promoted with this patent. I wonder if this no-name company is owned by Exxon?

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

TDyl (862130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686147)

Can anyone remember a, probably, fictional German movie from maybe thirty years ago that told the story of someone being hounded/murdered(?) by a massive oil conglomerate for producing a non petrol-burning car?

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686253)

No, but I *BELIEVE* it was a hydrogen/water powered car. And yeah there have been a lot of them...

In related news, our town had a trolley line from the city to about 30 miles out in the country, which was actually profitable back in the 60's or so. But Ford bought them out and shut them down in order to help promote car use...

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686337)

That's what Chevy did with all the bus lines in San Fransisco.

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686551)

In related news, our town had a trolley line from the city to about 30 miles out in the country, which was actually profitable back in the 60's or so. But Ford bought them out and shut them down in order to help promote car use...

That's what Chevy did with all the bus lines in San Fransisco.

And behind the those car companies and those dealings was the Illuminati. You wait, part of their plans was to jack the price of gold up to over a $1,000 US and then, BAM! they'll crash the price and in the process making billions! It'll happen soon - you'll see!

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686705)

It's actually pretty well documented that the big three are responsible for killing electric train lines in the US. Go back under your bridge.

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686733)

Can anyone remember a, probably, fictional German movie from maybe thirty years ago that told the story of someone being hounded/murdered(?) by a massive oil conglomerate for producing a non petrol-burning car?

Are you talking about The Formula [imdb.com]? It was an american movie, about a secret Nazi formula for turning coal into oil. The whole beginning is set in Nazi Germany, and then later in the film they return to Germany.

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686231)

Blaming 'Big Oil' is fun and all, but come on. Hybridization generally cuts gas consumption by less than 50%, and that's only in their mid-sized sedan class. Trucks (big-rig and pickup), trains, planes, clunkers, etc. still burn lots of gas, I doubt that hybrids would make Exxon blink an eye.

It you're really looking for some kind of conspiracy, the American auto makers would be the best place. This little company is trying to prevent the sale/import of Toyota's cars, rather than just collecting royalties. There are only two possible explanations: a) they're getting big money from other automakers to remove Toyota from the market, or b) they're do some serious hardball trolling. Still, the latter is more likely.

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686721)

There are only two possible explanations:

You missed about a thousand other options, including ... (z) they have a valid patent that Toyota infringes, and they went to the ITC because the ITC is much faster than the U.S. District Courts, and they know that if they get an import injunction against Toyota, Toyota will pay for a license to start the Priuses flowing again. In other words, the ITC doesn't award damages, but with a foreign defendant you can still use the threat of an ITC injunction to get a monetary settlement out of your opponent. It's a perfectly valid and reasonable strategy for a patent infringement case.

Re:Let's ban all hybrids in the US (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686313)

I wonder if this no-name company is owned by Exxon?

      No, I'm sure that big oil wants you all to drive hybrids. After all, the price of oil is going to continue going up anyway just through sheer demand for all the OTHER applications of oil. Why burn up all that oil quickly today in internal combustion engines, when you can be charged an arm and a leg for it in a couple decades or so?

Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

Shadyman (939863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686123)

So what, they patented the transmission? CV joints? Axles?

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (2, Informative)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686157)

1. A hybrid vehicle, comprising: at least two pairs of wheels, each pair of wheels operable to receive power to propel said hybrid vehicle; a first alternating current (AC) electric motor, operable to provide power to a first pair of said at least two pairs of wheels to propel said hybrid vehicle; a second alternating current (AC) electric motor, operable to provide power to a second pair of said at least two pairs of wheels to propel said hybrid vehicle a third AC electric motor; an engine coupled to said third electric motor, operable to provide power to at least one of said two pairs of wheels to propel the hybrid vehicle, and/or to said third electric motor to drive the third electric motor to generate electric power; a first alternating current-direct current (AC-DC) converter having an AC side coupled to said first electric motor, operable to accept AC or DC current and convert the current to DC or AC current respectively; a second alternating current-direct current (AC-DC) converter having an AC side coupled to said second electric motor, operable to accept AC or DC current and convert the current to DC or AC current respectively; a third alternating current-direct current (AC-DC) converter coupled to said third electric motor, at least operable to accept AC current and convert the current to DC; an electrical storage device coupled to a DC side of said AC-DC converters, wherein the electrical storage device is operable to store DC energy received from said AC-DC converters and provide DC energy to at least said first and second AC-DC converters for providing power to at least said first and second electric motors; and a controller, operable to start and stop the engine to minimize fuel consumption. essentially, they patented a triple electric motor hybrid, wit the third motor capable of driving wheels, but also being connected to an engine to generate power.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686233)

1. A hybrid vehicle, comprising: at least two pairs of wheels, each pair of wheels operable to receive power to propel said hybrid vehicle; [snip] a third AC electric motor; an engine coupled to said third electric motor, operable to provide power to at least one of said two pairs of wheels to propel the hybrid vehicle, and/or to said third electric motor to drive the third electric motor to generate electric power; [etc].

I don't see how this in any way is infringed by Toyota. Where is the third electric motor on a Toyota hybrid? How is power provided to two separate pairs of wheels?

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1, Troll)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686189)

So what, they patented the transmission? CV joints? Axles?

Paice LLC Lawyer: Umm... Sure, why not?

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (5, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686237)

They patented the transmission, exactly. The use of a planetary gearbox to sum the output of the gasoline and electric motors, or to have the gasoline motor drive the generator. I share the antipathy for software patents with most of the Slashdot crowd, but this is a classic hardware patent. Hardware patents have a long and important history, and are almost certainly a good thing.

Curiously, GM's Volt doesn't violate this patent, as it is a so-called "series hybrid", in that the gas motor only drives the generator, and the wheels are only driven by the electric motor. The Ford Fusion and Escape hybrids, and the Nissan Altima hybrid use exactly the same system that Toyota does, licensed from Toyota.

Toyota has made the system useful (in a way that the original patent isn't) by adding a second electric motor which assists in driving the wheels directly. This enables a "low gear", by having the gas motor run fast, driving the first motor/generator backwards to generate power, which drives the second electric motor. That is the decisive conceptual leap in the Synergy drive, and Toyota has of course patented that.

Thad

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686263)

If Toyota has added its own innovation, then this their invention, not the company that's suing. I thought that was one of the key points of a patent.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686341)

If Toyota has added its own innovation, then this their invention, not the company that's suing.

It's possible for a single product to contain multiple inventions, such as one patented to Paice and one patented to Toyota.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686657)

But Toyota's invention is only an improvement upon the other invention. Toyota can patent the improvement, but they and all licensees must also obtain a license for the original patent. Just because you add a redial function to a phone doesn't mean you then can patent the phone.

However, if Toyota was in fact awarded the patent for the complete Synergy Drive, then the patent office screwed up and Toyota's off the hook until their patent is successfully challenged. Then there would be a grace period, meanwhile they design another hybrid drivetrain.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686811)

Even if Toyota thought of it independently, Paice wins if they invented it first and filed a patent application on it. That's the way patents have always worked. The first to invent and disclose gets the right to exclude, regardless of whether you "copied" him or thought of it yourself. And as somebody else pointed out below, there may be more than one innovation involved. Think of it like this. If you invented the pencil and patented it, I could not make a pencil without your permission. But I could still invent a pencil with an eraser attached and patent it. You can't make a pencil with an attached eraser without my permission. I also cannot make a pencil with an attached eraser, because it includes a pencil, which would violate your patent. So nobody has the right to make a pencil with an attached eraser. We have to get to together to do that. Now a Prius is a pencil with an eraser plus about 100,000 other gadgets and gizmos. It's a complex piece of machinery, so there is a lot of room for different people to have patents on different parts.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

Carbaholic (1327737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686649)

Curiously, GM's Volt doesn't violate this patent, as it is a so-called "series hybrid", in that the gas motor only drives the generator, and the wheels are only driven by the electric motor.

what do you mean by the quotes and the so-calleds? it just plain is a series hybrid. They are fundamentally different systems.

Re:Silly patents, tricks are for kids... (1)

markk (35828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686749)

That can't be what was patented because the Toyota Prius with that kind of drive has been on the market far longer than 2006.
If only Series 3 Prius's are affected I am really having a hard time figuring out what is involved. The summing gearbox has been a selling point of the Prius for 10 years now or so.

The fact that it is so recent a patent makes me think the article isn't real accurate.

Not again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686165)

Oh man, I bit into this same shitpie once before... look up Solomon Technologies in 2006/2007 to see how this one will turn out.

(used to be symbol SOLM.ob, now called Technipower or something)

Ah, Patents (1)

Der Huhn Teufel (688813) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686183)

It's amazing how descriptive a patent can be while still claiming virtually nothing at all. Almost every hybrid vehicle on the market could be sued under that patent. Aren't patent trolls the greatest?

Re:Ah, Patents (1)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686209)

I don't think most hybrid cars have a third electric motor coupled to an engine for generating electric power and also coupled to the wheels for driving the car also.

Re:Ah, Patents (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686351)

Any hybrid with a block heater can also be sued - 4 separate claims on hybrids that "pre-heat the engine".

This troll filed for his patent in 2003. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686195)

Toyota had one of their patents filed in 1993 and granted in 1995

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=Wx8lAAAAEBAJ&dq=toyota+electric+motor

And another filed in 1997 and issued in 1998:

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=r9YWAAAAEBAJ&dq=toyota+electric+motor

Someone else had prior art in 1993.

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=MTEaAAAAEBAJ&dq=toyota+electric+motor

Evil corporations shouldn't steal from little guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686197)

Right?

Prior art in the 1830's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686211)

I'm pretty sure prior art is established there - back in the 1830's?

How did this even get patented? (1, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686245)

This looks like stuff they had in Scientific American back in 1972. Even the microcontroller was anticipated. The only addition (and it's mostly a bullshit one) is "a two-speed transmission may further be provided, to further broaden the vehicle's load range". CVT transmissions weren't envisioned then.

Sure enough, if you look at the list of cited patents, they go back to the early 70s. This is not new, and should not have received a separate patent as an "invention". There's zero inventing involved.

Sample bogus claims:
11. The hybrid vehicle of claim 10, wherein said engine is preheated prior to starting.
16. The method of claim 13, comprising the further step of preheating said engine prior to starting.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein said engine is preheated prior to starting.

This is broad enough to be claiming a patent on a f*cking block heater on any hybrid.

Never mind all the "non-invention-ness" of:
6. The hybrid vehicle of claim 1, wherein said engine comprises a turbocharger operable to increase the maximum torque output by said engine, and wherein said turbocharger is so operated when the power required of said engine exceeds a predetermined value for at least a predetermined period of time.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein said engine comprises a turbocharger operable to increase the maximum torque output by said engine, and wherein said controller causes said turbocharger to be so operated when the power required of said engine exceeds a predetermined value for at least a predetermined period of time.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising: operating a turbocharger coupled to the engine of the hybrid vehicle to increase maximum torque output (MTO) produced by the engine when torque required of the engine exceeds a predetermined value for at least a predetermined period of time.

- in other words the "invention" of using a turbo-charger to increase performance.

Gee, why not add a supercharger at the same time? No turbo lag, etc.

Your patent system is fucked up. Hopefully the Japs will do everyone a favour and do a a Pearl Harbour on it.

Ignorant troll (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686379)

You're a typical slashtard. You don't know anything about patents. The patent isn't on each individual claim, the patent is on the device described by the claims. You're a fucking retard

Import? (2, Informative)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686255)

But, Toyota makes cars in the US...

Re:Import? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686503)

They don't make the Prius in the US though. They were going to manufacture them at their plant near Tupelo, MS, but that's been shelved due to the economy.

Re:Import? (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686627)

But, Toyota makes cars in the US...

Some, but not all. I recently purchased a new Yaris. According to the sticker, it's 100% Japanese.

Go Saturn ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686267)

Errrr..... General Motors errrr.......... Chrysler errr..... and
so on and so forth.

Yours In Norilsk,
Philboyd Studge

Does not have to BLOCK anything... (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686277)

Patent Claim Could Block Import of Toyota's Hybrid Cars on 17:10 Thursday 08 October 2009

Contrary to oft-repeated headlines, a patent-holder never wants to block a patent-using technology from the market. They just want to get paid for it. If, indeed, the patent is valid — and the size of the patent-holder is no indication either way — Toyota simply needs to pay for the technology...

The article write-up seems like it is written by a Toyota-shill. If a Paice-shill were to write it, it could've been rephrased along the following lines:

After over 3 years of trying to dodge its responsibility, Toyota may finally be forced by the US International Trade Commission to respect America's Intellectual Property laws and pay a small American firm for the valuable technology, that Toyota found so useful for its hybrid vehicles.

Re:Does not have to BLOCK anything... (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686369)

I of course can't cite any examples because I don't know if one exists. But it is plausible for a patent holder to prevent their invention from making it to the market. This would only make sense in a case like consipracy nuts always pushed, that the oil companies bought out the patents for incredibly efficient ICE engines because it would hurt the value of their main product.

Again, not saying it's ever happened but a situation like that isn't too hard to imagine.

Re:Does not have to BLOCK anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686741)

Nope. That is patently (pardon the pun) illegal under the Sherman Act. You can operate a monopoly using your patent, but you cannot engage in anticompetitive practices.

Re:Does not have to BLOCK anything... (1)

Dahan (130247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686395)

Contrary to oft-repeated headlines, a patent-holder never wants to block a patent-using technology from the market. They just want to get paid for it.

If that were true, why did Paice ask the court to block sales of the Toyota cars in question? Is there a reason for them to ask for something they don't actually want? TFA: "In the earlier case, the jury awarded $4.3 million in damages and the verdict was upheld on appeal. U.S. District Judge David Folsom in Marshall rejected Paice's request to issue a court order to halt sales of the Toyota vehicles. "

Re:Does not have to BLOCK anything... (2, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686593)

If that were true, why did Paice ask the court to block sales of the Toyota cars in question?

Leverage. As long as Toyota is allowed to continue importing their hybrids, they have little reason to settle. Instead, they'll aggressively fight the suit in the hopes of either getting the patent invalidated or driving Paice into bankruptcy with legal fees. If Paice can get an injunction, though, it will hurt Toyota badly; they'll be forced to negotiate some kind of royalty deal or lose their hybrid sales. Even if the deal lets Toyota contest the patent, it still give Paice enough money to keep in business for the length of the suit plus a nice chunk of cash for bonuses and dividends.

Re:Does not have to BLOCK anything... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686613)

Perhaps it played out more like this:

After three years of not realizing they were violating a patent, Toyato is suddenly surprised to discover that their engineers reinvented an existed technology.

Diesel electric trains .... (2, Insightful)

taniwha (70410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686339)

reading the claims sounds much more like it describes diesel-electric trains than Toyota's dual transmission drive

Aren't trains obvious prior art for hybrids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686347)

I thought train engines generated electricity and had electric motors to drive the wheels.

ah, the eastern district of Texas (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686467)

Interesting that a company located in Florida [paice.net] would choose to sue a Japanese company in the seemingly random [wikipedia.org] location of Marshall, Texas [wikipedia.org].

Re:ah, the eastern district of Texas (1)

Xiterion (809456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686787)

Would you propose instead that a legitimate patent suit choose a venue known for being unfriendly to patent claims instead? Just because all patent trolls sue in Marshall, Texas does not mean all patent suits in Marshall, Texas are patent trolls.

Re:ah, the eastern district of Texas (4, Informative)

piltdownman84 (853358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686831)

Interesting that a company located in Florida [paice.net] would choose to sue a Japanese company in the seemingly random [wikipedia.org] location of Marshall, Texas [wikipedia.org].

Marshall, Texas is part of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas [wikipedia.org]. The district has been criticized for a perceived bias towards plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, including patent trolls and other holders of dubious patents.

Nuke the system!! (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686475)

And I'm counting on these patent and copyright wars to get us to do just that. It's our only hope to help get people to see what's it's all about. So more of this is a very good thing. Patents and copyrights are the "sub-prime loans" of innovation, and the effect will be the same as the real ub-prime loans had on the economy. They give unqualified people way too much power.

Here is a way around it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29686489)

ha ha ha, they just need to stop calling it a hybrid. Then it wouldn't violate the patent.

Um, gee... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686537)

"way to apply force to a car's wheels from an electric motor or internal combustion engine"

Isn't there plenty of prior art on this?

BTW, the patent app is flawed. They specify a 2-speed transmission. My hybrid will NOT have a 2-speed transmission, I assure you. And it will have mechanical braking with an auxiliary regenerative system. Looks like i have a great chance at getting a patent on that, or some combination thereof.

Joking aside, this is continuing evidence of our patent system being pretty well hosed.

Claim 1 is rather interesting (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686545)

To infringe claim 1 it would seem that you need at least one electric motor driving one pair of wheels and a second electric motor driving a second pair of wheels. i.e. four wheel drive with two electric motors (plus a third electric motor coupled to the IC engine).

Not sure (without hunting down that judgement) how given their extensive citing of Toyota products in their spec that they somehow convinced a court to award a win in 2005?

Who holds the patent on gas engines? (1)

vehicle tracking (1357065) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686575)

I find it hard to believe that a patent would be issued on such a broad invention. The first gas engine was invented by Siegfried Marcus in 1870. Did he have a patent? I would bet the small company that holds this patent is fighting it on a very small technicality.

the solution here is very simple (1, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29686835)

Toyota should buy Paice for pennies and then their patent will be owned by Toyota.

Simple.

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