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Ruling soon on US patent appeal

A decision is expected soon on Enercon's appeal against the ruling by the US International Trade Commission excluding its variable speed technology from the United States. The German wind turbine manufacturer is fighting the legality of a patent granted to Kenetech Windpower before its bankruptcy. At issue is whether such a broad patent ignores prior art -- and thus whether the owner of the patent may have competitors excluded from the US market.

A decision is expected within weeks on Enercon's appeal against the ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) excluding its variable speed technology from the United States. The German wind turbine manufacturer is fighting the legality of a patent granted to Kenetech Windpower of California before its bankruptcy.

Oral arguments were heard at the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC in May and a ruling should be issued in July or August. The ITC has ruled that Enercon technology contravenes the Kenetech patent, preventing the Germany company from importing or manufacturing its turbines in America. The matter was originally brought to the ITC by Kenetech, but after the company's bankruptcy, the patents in question were bought by Zond, part of energy giant Enron Corp, which is pursuing the fight.

At issue is whether such a broad patent of what is essentially the concept of variable speed operation of wind turbines (Windpower Monthly, December 1996) ignores prior art -- and thus whether the owner of the patent may have competitors excluded from the US market.

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