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United States

GE settles five-year legal struggle with MHI

UNITED STATES: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and GE have settled their long-standing wind turbine patent dispute in an agreement that will see the companies cross license their products.

Sales of MHI's 2.4MW machine were hit by the dispute
Sales of MHI's 2.4MW machine were hit by the dispute

The two manufacturers have been tussling over MHI's 2.4MW turbine since 2008, with GE claiming it uses technology that falls under its intellectual property.

This cross-licensing agreement draws a line under any disputes and allows each company to retain its patents.

Any financial settlement was not revealed in the statement from MHI, but the company said the move would have a "minor impact" on earnings.

Sales of the MHI turbine were hit hard by the drawn out legal wranglings, with buyers put off by the continuing uncertainty surrounding its development.

The company did not reveal whether it would now attempt to make a push back into the US market.

In 2012, the Japanese manufacturer suspended sales of the turbine in the US and halted construction at its manufacturing plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

The $100 million factory was built to construct the nacelles for the 2.4MW turbine, but was closed just a few months after completion having never finished a nacelle.

GE filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission in 2008 and first filed to sue in a Texas court in 2009, with MHI counter-suing in a Florida court.

The dispute concerned a number of components in the machine including its low voltage ride through, to which GE claims to hold the patents.

MHI accused GE of illegally trying to monopolise the US market for variable-speed wind turbines through intimidation, fraud and sham litigation, a charge that GE always denied.

The case swung in favour of the American firm earlier this year, when MHI's case was thrown out of court, with a judge ruling that GE's pitch system did not infringe its Japanese counterpart's patent.

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