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GE sues Vestas in patent dispute

UNITED STATES: GE Renewable Energy has filed a patent dispute in California against Vestas, over zero voltage ride through (ZVRT) technology.

Projects across the US using Vestas technology have been named in the lawsuit (pic: Business Wire)
Projects across the US using Vestas technology have been named in the lawsuit (pic: Business Wire)

GE has claimed Vestas' V90-3MW, V100-2MW, V112-3MW and V117-3.3MW models installed across the US are in breach of the patent.

"It is GE's view that the protection of intellectual property rights is the foundation for driving both innovation and investment in high technology industries generally, and the associated creation of high value jobs," a statement from GE said.

The suit surrounds the ZVRT technology that helps turbines cope with fluctuating grid voltage. in this case, GE said its patent "allows wind turbines to remain connected to the electricity grid when voltage drops to zero".

Vestas intends to fight the complaint, which it said is "without merit".

GE named 18 projects in the complaint from acoss eight US states which, it claimed, is using the technology: Spinning Spur (Texas); Longhorn (Texas); Mile (New Mexico); Kingfisher (Oklahoma); Origin (Oklahoma); Headwaters (Indiana); South Plains (Texas); Keechi (Texas); Hoopeston (Illinois); Alta II-IX (California); Brookfield (California); Granite Reliable (New Hamsphire); Kibby Mountain (Maine); Central Plains (Kansas); Solano (California); Kingdom Community (Vermont); Elkhorn Ridge (Nebraska); Passadumkeag (Maine); and San Gorgonio (California).

Intellectual property expert Philip Totaro, CEO of Totaro Associates, said GE is able to request an injunction on the Californian projects — as that is where the suit has first been filed, other pending suits in other states are unknown at this time — to allow for the removal or altering of the technology.

"Sadly, this matter was probably avoidable, as is the case so many times in patent infringements. Intellectual property risk is not considered a "real" risk by most companies unless litigation happens," Totaro said.

In 2008, GE brought a suit against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for the same technology, which was eventually settled in 2013. 

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