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GE v MHI - LVRT 'inventor' licenses tech to Mitsubishi

US: Thomas Wilkins, the alleged co-inventor of key patented GE wind technology, has licensed the design to Mitsubishi.

MHI's controversial 2.5MW turbine
MHI's controversial 2.5MW turbine

 The news of Wilkins’s licensing of the low-voltage ride-through technology (LVRT) came in a filing on July 9 in GE’s suit against Wilkins, a Nevada-based engineering consultant, seeking an injunction against Wilkins.

The bombshell means that the $1billion battle between bitter rivals Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and General Electric (GE) is higher stakes than ever.

GE's document said: "Wilkins [has] purported to grant a license to MHI to use GE’s technology pursuant to the ‘985 Patent." Wilkins refused to comment when contacted by Windpower Monthly.

Wilkins has previously stated he was never a GE employee and does not have to assign his right to the US’s largest wind turbine manufacturer.

The dispute was prompted by an International Trade Commission judge  finding that Wilkins is an unnamed co-inventor of ‘claim 15’ of the widely-used ‘985 patent who could thus license the technology and collect royalties.  GE is appealing that August 2009 finding.

Of the three lawsuits that GE has filed against Mitsubishi, two allege infringement of ‘985 by the Japanese company’s flagship 2.4MW turbine. The patent does not expire until 2023.

LVRT, required by US electricity regulators, allows turbines to ‘ride through’ sudden dips in voltage on the grid without any operational disturbance.

According to Wilkins website, he is also offering to license the ‘565 patented technology for  continuous reactive power control, also formally owned by GE at the US Patent Office and on which, however, Wilkins is a named co-inventor.

 

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