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Ford Cleared of Technology Patent Infringement, Jury Rules
Automotive News


March 27, 2015 - 2:41 pm ET

DETROIT (Reuters) -- A jury has found that Ford Motor Co. did not infringe on four patents owned by a Washington state company in its onboard computer systems, clearing the company in a $240 million lawsuit.

The jury in federal court in Tacoma, Wash., also found in Ford's favor on its claim that the patents' owner, Eagle Harbor Holdings, stole Ford's trade secrets, Ford said Friday.

The jury verdict was not publicly available on the court's docket on Friday.

The trial, which began on March 10, involved four patents on inventions Eagle Harbor Holdings said Ford used without permission in technology the carmaker has introduced in its vehicles in recent years, such as the Sync dashboard communication system and its assisted parking controls. Eagle Harbor Holdings was seeking at least $240 million in damages.

The company, based on an island in Puget Sound, sued Ford in 2011. It was founded by inventor Dan Preston, who, with his son Joseph, previously developed technology that was used for General Motors' OnStar communications system, according to its website.

Eagle Harbor Holdings said in its complaint that between 2002 and 2008, it communicated details of its technology to both Ford and Volvo -- then owned by Ford -- but Ford refused to license its patents.

Ford countersued, accusing Eagle Harbor of stealing its confidential documents related to Sync in order to obtain its own patents, which it then used to sue Ford or extract licensing fees from the carmaker.

Ford's countersuit said Preston initially sought to develop products for in-vehicle communication systems, but later "abandoned" the effort and focused on accumulating patents. It alleged Preston obtained Ford's secret documents through an employee of a Ford supplier.

"We are pleased with the results of this case and the company will continue to defend itself against meritless claims," Ford said in a statement.

A representative for Eagle Harbor could not immediately be reached on Friday.
 

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"Ford countersued, accusing Eagle Harbor of stealing its confidential documents related to Sync in order to obtain its own patents, which it then used to sue Ford or extract licensing fees from the carmaker."

"The jury in federal court in Tacoma, Wash., also found in Ford's favor on its claim that the patents' owner, Eagle Harbor Holdings, stole Ford's trade secrets, Ford said Friday."

"We are pleased with the results of this case and the company will continue to defend itself against meritless claims," Ford said in a statement.

Well Done Ford!
 
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